Northern Trust Open interview: Blayne BarberFebruary 12, 2013
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MARK STEVENS: Like to welcome Blayne Barber. Blayne, you Monday‑qualified this week. If you want to go back to Q‑School when you had the rules violation, take everybody through that real quick, and then what you've been doing since and then we'll have a few questions.
BLAYNE BARBER: Yeah, cool, thanks for having me. Back at Q‑School, I had a situation occur in the second round where I felt like I might have incurred a penalty on myself and on the safe side, I called it on myself.
Then moved on with my round, didn't do anything about it. I just incurred the penalty, told my playing competitors and finished the round. That evening, I was speaking with my roommate and he informed me that the penalty I incurred could be two shots and not one.
At that point is when I obviously really started considering it, because at the time I was a little questionable about what I had done. And talked it through with my brother, who was caddying for me that week and he said that he didn't feel like I had incurred the penalty.
Obviously Q‑School being such a big stage and it being my livelihood and my career beginning, I pondered it a lot and thought that I might have just been psyching myself out and it wasn't a big deal.
So I talked to an official and I said, think I signed for a score higher and he said, it's fine, obviously just take the shot and move on.
So I played the rest of the week, played well, made it through, and then over the next five or six days, really thought about it a lot and just did not feel peace about it. Did not feel comfortable with the decision that I had made at the time, and knew that I had incurred that penalty and I just gave myself a one‑shot penalty instead of two.
Just called and did what I felt like was right and was disqualified from it, and moved on from it and here we are.
MARK STEVENS: That was in first stage.
BLAYNE BARBER: That was if first stage, correct.
MARK STEVENS: Since that point, have you been playing in tournaments and preparing for the Web.com?
BLAYNE BARBER: After, that I played two‑day winter series events on the NGA and was fortunate enough to win both of those so I was still playing great. Took some time off over the winter, started back up and played a couple more three‑day events in the beginning of January, and have just been playing and practicing and getting ready for the season to start.
Q. Have you qualified anywhere else?
BLAYNE BARBER: This was my first Monday qualifier this week. I played the pre‑qualifier on Wednesday and then the Monday qualifier yesterday. So this is it.
Q. You've obviously played in a lot of qualifiers but what's it like for you on a Monday qualifier for you on a big event on the TOUR?
BLAYNE BARBER: I was talking to my wife yesterday, I really didn't feel much pre sure. I just thought that I really had nothing to lose. I could go out there, I was playing well and just went out there with a good mind‑set and just trying to play a good round of golf and it all came together. I just looked at it like I had everything to gain and nothing to lose.
Q. Why here?
BLAYNE BARBER: It worked scheduling‑wise and I wanted to, as early as possible in the year, just try to start qualifying and try to make a cut, because that allows me to get through pre‑qualifiers and it just makes scheduling easier to not skip an entire event like a mini‑Tour event to just play pre‑qualifiers.
It works scheduling‑wise, and I did some other things on the trip. I have family out here and I did some equipment stuff, so it worked out well.
Q. Have you played Riviera before? What are your thoughts on the golf course?
BLAYNE BARBER: I played, the National Championship was here in June; I played here with Auburn. Had some success this week and the golf course is great. I love it. I feel like it suits me pretty well, and it's in great shape obviously. I think it's just a good golf course. You have to really hit it in the right areas and keep it in front of you.
Q. This is your first PGA TOUR event; right?
BLAYNE BARBER: That's correct.
Q. What's it been like being here this week and seeing some of the players that you probably looked up to?
BLAYNE BARBER: Yeah, it's very exciting. I didn't sleep a whole lot last night. I was ready to get out here and get going and practicing and play today. It's felt very normal. It's still golf and it's still a golf course and a golf ball and you still have to shoot a good score.
I've been very excited about the fact that I just feel comfortable and ready to go, and it's cool to be here. I'm very excited.
Q. After you ultimately took your medicine, what was the most difficult thing after that? Did you beat yourself up for a while, or what?
BLAYNE BARBER: No. After it happened, I just felt very good about it. I knew that I had done what was right in my own heart, and I just moved on from it. I didn't really think of it as a deterrent at all. I just knew that it was a learning experience, a critical learning experience, and it caused some problems.
But it's just a part of the process and I'm still young and still have a lot of golf ahead of me. I just moved on from it very quickly. I went and played that next event I think the following week possibly and played great and won it.
Q. What was the best part of the reaction you received from people? Did you get a lot of support in anything really meaningful?
BLAYNE BARBER: I had a few PGA TOUR players text me and say that they really respected what I did and glad that I upheld the integrity of the game and things like that. The support really was overwhelming.
I didn't expect much to come from it at all and it just really blew up and turned into a lot of encouragement and support and well wishes and everything, so it was much different than I had anticipated.
Q. Monday qualifying is one thing, but when you have to pre‑qualify, it's a totally different commitment. Did you wrestle with the decision to even come out here? How tough is that call just to make it out here?
BLAYNE BARBER: I did. It was a very difficult decision. I wasn't really comfortable with it. Some people around me thought that it would be a good idea, and I just kind of said, okay, let's do this. I probably felt more pressure for the pre‑qualifier than anything, because 2,500 miles to play and it ended up taking 5‑under to even get through that.
It was definitely a difficult decision and just looking back I'm so thankful the way everything has worked out.
Q. Where was the pre qualifier? You had that last Wednesday?
BLAYNE BARBER: It was at Morongo Golf Club, which is about an hour and a half from here.
Q. And the Monday qualifier?
BLAYNE BARBER: Industry Hills.
Q. Is it odd to you that right now most people when they hear your name, think of what happened at Q‑School versus the guy that played on the Walker Cup, was a good player at Auburn and stuff like that?
BLAYNE BARBER: Yeah, I mean, I guess that that just occurs because it just kind of turned into what it did and it just kind of stretched through the media a little bit.
I'm okay with it, because ultimately I want to convey that I just feel like I'm following my calling and playing for the glory of God and I just want that to be the focus of my career and what I'm doing.
So it gives me a platform; and I've had a lot of kids and parents and schoolteachers and whatever come to me and say, thank you for doing what you did and thank you for doing the right thing.
It's okay. I'm fine with it and I'm still going to just play. You know, if that's the way that people want to look at me, then that's okay.
Q. What did you shoot to get in?
BLAYNE BARBER: 66 on Wednesday and then 65 yesterday.
Q. What do you make for winning an NGA event?
BLAYNE BARBER: It depends. The smaller ones are 8‑ to 10,000 and the bigger ones are 25 or so.
Q. Like the first one that you played in after that, what did you make?
BLAYNE BARBER: Ten‑something. I can't remember exactly, like 10,700.
MARK STEVENS: Thanks for your time, Blayne. Good luck this week.