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Barry battles his way into playoff at U.S. Amateur

One of the longest days of Mike Barry's golf career turned into one of the most satisfying Tuesday when he made it into a playoff in the 109th U.S. Amateur.

The Medford golfer will be among 27 vying this morning for four spots in the 64-man bracket for match play, which begins later today.

Barry teed off early Tuesday knowing he had to shoot well to overcome a blunder the day before that cost him two penalty strokes. He did just that, turning in an even-par 70 at Cedar Ridge Country Club, near Broken Arrow, Okla., to finish with a two-day qualifying score of 8-over-par 148.

He then waited. And waited. And waited.

"We knew about 8 over was going to be the cut," said Barry. "They had projected that pretty much all day. We were just watching it. Coming down to the wire, I really didn't think I'd be in it."

He watched the tournament unfold online in his hotel room. He went from 180th place in the 312-player field at day's start, to 139th by the end of his round. For nearly eight hours, he and others at 8 over crawled up the leaderboard as others fell back.

Only when the last groups came in from two courses were the parameters set for the playoff.

The players will go off the 14th hole at Southern Hills Country Club at 7:30 a.m. CDT (5:30 PDT) in Tulsa, where the remainder of the tournament will be played. There will be six foursomes and a threesome.

The players with the low score on each hole continue until four are left.

The 14th is a 220-yard par 4 with lots of bunkering. Barry bogeyed it when he played Southern Hills on Monday en route to a 78.

"It's a solid long iron," said Barry, who hit right of the green Monday and failed to get up and down for par.

That hole wasn't his biggest worry of Day 1, however.

Barry was 2 over through 13 holes at Southern Hills, which played more than three shots tougher than Cedar Ridge on Monday. But a couple of bogeys, followed by double bogeys on two of his last three holes, put him in a pickle.

It was the final hole that likely caused him a restless night.

Barry played two fine shots into the 463-yard par 4, hitting a 7-iron to 30 feet. But his ball was in the way of a playing partner's, so he marked it off to the side. When it was time to replace his ball to its proper position, Barry forgot.

Only after he hit his first putt did he realize his mistake.

Before tapping in for par, he discussed the situation with a rules official. Barry was told to putt out and take the two-stroke penalty.

"I had to call it on myself," said Barry. "No one else realized it. Minus that, I'm fine for match play. Now I'm in a playoff. I battled pretty good today, and I'm proud of that."

His goal was to shoot 1 under on Tuesday. Starting on No. 10, he birdied his first hole, a par 4, then bogeyed the par-5 14th when his ball plugged in a sand trap.

"I didn't give myself a lot of birdie looks, but every time I had one it seemed like I ran the putt over the edge of the hole," said Barry.

He remained even until his 13th hole, No. 4, where he three-putted for bogey, but he got the stroke back with a birdie at his 15th, sinking a 6-footer on the par 3.

He had a good look at birdie on his 16th, but missed the uphill 20-footer. His approach shots missed the greens on his final two holes, but he made pars to finish off his 70.

Barry admitted he needs to avoid costly penalties. This was the third one in his last three tournaments.

In the Oregon stroke-play tournament two weeks ago, his playing partner didn't sign Barry's card after the second of three rounds, rendering it invalid. Barry didn't catch it because he left the course hastily and was later disqualified.

In the U.S. Amateur sectional in late July, Barry's threesome was penalized a stroke for slow play because one of the other players was especially deliberate.

On Tuesday, first-day qualifying leader Tim Jackson shot a second-round 72 to leave him at even par and earn medalist honors, even after he was assessed a one-shot penalty for slow play at the conclusion of his round.

The 50-year-old became the oldest player in the history of the tournament to lead after stroke play.

Jackson's group, which included John Kostis of Paradise Valley, Ariz., and Patrick Duncan Jr. of Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., was warned by USGA officials after the fourth hole that it had fallen off the pace. It was given a second warning at the ninth hole and, after it failed to close the gap to the next group by No. 13, was subject to an additional two-shot penalty.

The USGA only assessed the one-shot penalty at the conclusion of the round.

The trio of Ben Martin of Greenwood, S.C., Will Strickler of Gainesville, Fla., and Mark Anderson of Beauford, S.C., finished a stroke behind Jackson.

The tournament will have a strong local flavor in match play with five Oklahoma State players advancing, led by Trent Whitekiller and Kevin Tway. Also advancing were Morgan Hoffmann, Peter Uihlein and Rickie Fowler, who qualified at 7 over after a 76 at Southern Hills.

The 36-hole final match is set for Sunday.

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

Mike Barry, right, will compete in a playoff today to earn a spot in the 64-man bracket for match play.