For Blayne Barber, the narrative is finally changing.
In 16 months' time, from November 2012 to this March, the young pro had endured a career’s worth of tournament oddities, to the point that his name and “DQ” were becoming synonymous to hardcore golf fans.
It’s tough to shake those incidences off in the public eye, not to mention one’s own psyche. But the 24-year-old has a new first-line modifier that sounds so, so better – Web.com Tour winner.
Barber prevailed two weeks ago at the South Georgia Classic presented by First State Bank & Trust Co., picking up his first win at tough Kinderlou Forest, annually the Tour’s longest course.
The Tallahassee, Florida, native began the final round two shots behind red-hot Carlos Ortiz, the Tour’s leading money winner who stood one win away from a promotion to the PGA TOUR. But a 67 in the final round pushed him to the top – and away from what had previously defined his career.
“This puts me on a different trajectory,” Barber said.
Four events prior, in Brazil, he sustained his third professional disqualification after a bizarre set of circumstances that ended with an unsigned scorecard.
He had opened with a 67 at the Brasil Champions presented by HSBC, but the fellow pro keeping his card had erred on a few individual hole scores and as a result the numbers weren’t adding up properly. Barber was so immersed in getting it all correct that he forgot the most essential part of the process – the signature.
“I found out about 15 minutes later,” Barber recalled. “It was just shock, that’s the best word. I was in Brazil, a 10-hour flight from home, and had just shot 67 and played well.
“Another 'pull up your boots, keep moving on.’”
The second incident in the Barber Files came last year on the Web.com Tour at the Mylan Classic, when he signed for a second-round 65 when he had actually shot 66. Disqualified again, and again while he was playing well.
The first and most infamous DQ was in November 2012 at PGA TOUR Qualifying School, just before second stage. Barber, an Auburn grad, had advanced out of first stage but realized days later that he had given himself a one-shot penalty instead of the required two shots for moving a leaf in a bunker.
“They’re tough learning experiences but they’re just freak accidents,” Barber said. “I tried to gather what I can from those and move on; they’re things I’m not going to repeat again. Thankful they were early in my career and not later.”
Throughout those, Barber never lost resolve or his game – this season, after the DQ in Brazil he finished T11 at the Chitimacha Louisiana Open, then T22 two starts later at the WNB Golf Classic.
At South Georgia, Barber opened with rounds of 68-72, then caught fire over the weekend with 66-67. But Sunday’s round wasn’t without a little adversity, as he double bogeyed the 12th hole after hitting his tee shot.
He didn’t know where he stood in the tournament and stuck with his game, making two more birdies on the way in. Not until he was in the scorer’s tent – and he signed that card, thank you very much – did he find out that he was leading and that the players still on the course couldn’t catch him.
“It was exciting, just as far as moving forward and some of the goals that I’ve had, to play the PGA TOUR and stuff like that,” said Barber, who moved from 29th to sixth in money and is all but assured of claiming his TOUR card. “You kind of dream about things and so when it happens, it’s just kind of hard to process it all and take it in.
“I’m thankful for it, it’s another step.”
And a vehicle for putting all those missteps behind, for good.