Golf is a game of honesty. And of fickle fate.
Ask Blayne Barber. Twice in the past year, the 23-year-old tour pro self-reported scoring mistakes that resulted in getting disqualified from tournaments at crucial times.
At the PGA Tour’s qualifying tournament last fall. At a Web.com Tour event in Pittsburgh while in contention earlier this month — minutes after he had told his Q School story to reporters.
Both DQs were setbacks to a budding career. Only temporary ones, he hopes, as he comes to the Cox Classic off a tie for second at last week’s tournament and can play his way into next week’s start of the Web.com Tour playoffs.
What Barber gained from his tribulations was support and respect from fellow pros — and a strong friendship with one of the golfers who became a beneficiary of Barber’s Q-school DQ.
Chesson Hadley was one of the six players who got into the second stage of Q school when Barber’s DQ changed the cutoff line at his site. Hadley also was one of several from that group who reached out to Barber.
Hadley has played a full Web.com schedule and is third on the money list with more than $300,000, safely assured of joining the PGA Tour next season.
“Chesson and Amanda, his wife, have become good friends of mine and my wife, Morgan,” Barber said. “It is cool that through the whole thing he took advantage of it, going out and getting his (PGA Tour) card and now we’re good buddies.
“I’ve been excited to see where he’s come from and the year he’s had, and he’s headed to the PGA Tour. Hopefully I can do the same this week and join him.”
In the first stage of Q school, Barber hit a bunker shot in the second round. Unsure whether his backswing had touched a leaf in the bunker, which he knew was a rules infraction, he assessed himself a one-stroke penalty. Then he talked that night with one of his former Auburn teammates, who thought the violation was a two-stroke penalty.
Barber played the final two rounds because his caddie — and brother — Shayne Barber insisted he hadn’t seen the leaf move. The more the golfer thought about it after the tournament the uneasier he got. Barber called the tour a week later to inform them he had signed an incorrect scorecard.
“It’s easy to look back and wish I would have doing things differently, or been more careful in the bunker, whatever the case may be,” Barber said. “What happened, happened, and it clearly was a big part of God’s plan for how this year was going to work out.
“I don’t have any regrets. It’s part of the learning experience and part of the process that’s going to be my story of my golf career. Just play good golf, and that takes care of a lot of things.”
In Pittsburgh at the Mylan Classic, Barber thought he was in contention at 9 under and had made his first cut since tying for sixth in Louisiana in March. He said Morgan, now his caddie, noticed that scoreboards had him at 10. Again, he was DQ’d for signing an incorrect scorecard — a birdie was recorded on a hole where he made par.
“Shock was the biggest emotion. It was crazy it was happening,” Blayne said. “To finally be playing well, I was two back, and starting to feel real comfortable about my game and looking forward to a good weekend, then that happens.
“That night was difficult. It was kind of surreal that it had occurred, but I knew I was still playing great golf and the next week won an (National Golf Association) event. I put together four rounds in the 60s and carried it over to last week.”
He was leading the News Sentinel Open in Knoxville, Tenn., after eagling the 10th hole but lost by a stroke to Peter Malnati. Barber missed a tying 10-footer on the par-5 finishing hole.
The $36,300 payday moved him from 146th to 84th on the money list. The top 75 after the Cox Classic qualify for the new Web.com Tour playoffs, where 25 PGA Tour cards are available through the series of four $1 million tournaments.
“This week is about being confident and executing my game plan,” Barber said. “If I just control the things that I can, I feel confident I can have a good week.”