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Barry preps for second straight Amateur

Mike Barry is in a good place these days.

That he's in Tulsa, Okla., site of the U.S. Amateur golf tournament, is only partially relevant.

He's happy with his swing.

He's happy with his attitude.

He's happy with his life.

And the new husband and father — he married last month and has a 10-month-old son — hopes that bodes well in his second straight trip to one of the most prestigious championships in the country.

The tournament begins with two rounds of qualifying Monday and Tuesday, then switches to match play. The top 64 advance out of qualifying.

The host course is Southern Hills in Tulsa, but Cedar Ridge is also being used for qualifying.

Barry tees off at 12:55 p.m. local time at Southern Hills Monday, then at 7:40 Tuesday morning at Cedar Ridge.

His playing partners both days are Mike Ballo of Stamford, Conn., and Taylor Floyd of Macon, Ga.

This is Barry's first major event since his lifestyle changed in the past year.

"I don't know if that's helping out," says Barry, who will be a senior at Oregon State and compete for the Beavers for the first time this fall. "But I feel like my attitude is really good and where it needs to be. There's no stress on the golf course, which is very beneficial.

"Sometimes I've felt like the expectations of myself are too high, and if I didn't meet them, it was disappointing. Right now when I'm out there, things are going good enough to meet my expectations. The stress level I've had before doesn't seem to be there. I'm just going out there and having fun."

Barry qualified in July at Illahe Hill in Salem, earning medalist honors for the second straight year in sectional qualifying. His scores were 74 and 69 for a 1-under par 143 over two days.

Last year at the Amateur in Pinehurst, N.C., Barry failed to make it through qualifying. He placed 209th in the 315-player field.

"Last year, getting out there, it was a little intimidating, seeing all these guys on the range and no one's swinging it bad," says Barry. "My main thing is knowing that I should compete with these guys. Last year, I played pretty poorly and missed match play by a few shots. If I play my game, I shouldn't have any problem making the 64."

Barry arrived in Tulsa on Wednesday. He's practiced each day, getting used to the weather, which has been pleasant, and the rough grass, which is sparse and causes the ball to sink to the bottom.

He had a practice round Saturday at Southern Hills and today at Cedar Ridge.

Most of his course research on those rounds will be around the greens and figuring out where the best places to miss are.

"They usually put the pins where, if you miss, it'll be in bad spots," says Barry, "so you have to plot your way around the course. You take birdies where they come, but most USGA events are set up pretty difficult, so par is a pretty good score."

Barry's tournament play has been limited. In addition to the Amateur sectional qualifying, he played in the state stroke play championships last weekend but was disqualified after two rounds.

He shot 71 and 75 at Emerald Valley in Creswell, but after Round 2, he signed his card and left the course, unhappy with how he finished. He later found out a partner didn't co-sign the card, making it invalid.

Barry finished that round with three bogeys in the last five holes and admitted he was "a little angry."

Nevertheless, he was encouraged about playing well. His putting and ball striking were solid and had him tied for 12th place before being disqualified.

Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 776-4479, or e-mail ttrower@mailtribune.com