Barber wins first start after Q-School DQ
Blayne Barber’s decision to disqualify himself from Q-School was a hot discussion topic last week. Now his game is worth talking about.
Barber won the NGA Bridgestone Winter Professional Tour event at Harmony (Fla.) Golf Preserve on Thursday. It was his first start since he removed himself from Q-School, and ended with his third consecutive victory in an NGA Tour-sanctioned event. Barber has won four of his past five NGA starts.
He shot 13-under 203 (66-64-73) at Harmony, then beat Germany’s Allen John in a playoff. Barber earned $9,620 for the victory. “I was just excited to play again,” he said. “I just love playing and competing. I was glad to get back at it.
“(The disqualification) wasn’t brought up very often. A couple guys asked me about it. A couple just said, ‘Thanks for doing the right thing.’ There really wasn’t much reaction from it.”
His fellow competitors may not have mentioned the incident, but it was much-discussed in the media last week. Barber made an appearance on Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive” and the story, first reported by Golfweek, went viral on the Web and Twitter. Barber's fiancee, Morgan Stanford, tweeted, “In my wildest dreams I never imagined that my wedding would be mentioned on multiple sports media outlets #nopaparazziplease.” Barber and Stanford are getting married Dec. 15.
Barber informed the PGA Tour on Nov. 2 that he’d signed an incorrect scorecard at Q-School’s first stage, which had ended six days earlier. Barber, who penalized himself one stroke for brushing a leaf in a greenside bunker in the second round, had seemingly advanced to second stage before removing himself from the competition. The penalty for such an infraction is actually two strokes Barber’s caddie/brother, Shayne, insisted Blayne hadn’t touched the leaf, but Blayne, after days of debating whether he'd hit the leaf, disqualified himself for signing an incorrect scorecard. Barber’s DQ allowed six more players – Jamie Arnold, Corbin Mills, Jonathan Moore, Chesson Hadley and former European Tour winners Robert-Jan Derksen and Maarten Lafeber – to advance to second stage.
“I was very surprised,” Barber said of the reaction. “I expected it to be taken care of and for it to just kind of be swept under the rug and forgotten about. The outpouring of support and encouragement has been overwhelming. It’s all been very good. I did not expect that at all. It was a blessing to see all that.”
Barber made 15 birdies and just one bogey in the first two rounds at Harmony to take a three-shot lead. He made eight pars and one birdie on the front nine Thursday, but bogeyed No. 11 and double-bogeyed the 13th to fall 2 over for the day. Barber bounced back with birdies on the par-5 14th and 16th holes.
He had a 3-foot par putt for the victory on No. 18, but missed the putt and rolled it 4 feet past the hole. Barber made that to force a playoff. John hit his tee shot in the water on Harmony’s 18th hole in the playoff, allowing Barber to win with par.
“I struggled a little bit, but I knew it was playing a little bit more difficult,” Barber said. “I just stayed steady and made a couple birdies coming in, and unfortunately bogeyed the last. You can’t play great every day and it was nice to get a win while I was struggling a little bit.”
Barber’s latest victory came the same week that Q-School’s second stage was being held at six sites across the country. Because he’s no longer competing in Q-School, he’ll have to rely on Monday qualifiers and sponsor exemptions for starts on the PGA and Web.com tours next year.
Barber, a member of the United States team at last year’s Walker Cup, graduated from Auburn earlier this year with a degree in finance. He tied for 33rd in his pro debut at this year’s Nationwide Children’s Hospital Invitational on the Web.com Tour, and finished 15th in his other start on that circuit, at the Winn-Dixie Jacksonville Open. He won his first NGA Tour event in his fourth pro start, at the ICE Recycling at The Country Club of South Carolina. He’s earned $52,966 in six NGA-sanctioned events, and $13,000 for his two made cuts on the Web.com Tour.