PGA TOUR U
Barbaree, former U.S. Junior champion, wrapping up LSU career
November 03, 2020
By Doug Milne, PGATOUR.COM
- November 03, 2020
- Philip Barbaree was the first Louisiana resident to win the U.S. Junior since 1977.
Before Shreveport, Louisiana, native Philip Barbaree learned to play golf courtesy of his dad, he grew up with food on his mind.
Philip’s father, Phil, has supported the Barbaree family through his career in the restaurant industry. Specifically, he runs a handful of restaurants in Shreveport.
“My dad started a bunch of them in Shreveport, so the family moved from Birmingham (Alabama) back here to Shreveport right before I was born,” Barbaree said. “We ended up living there so he could run the restaurants.”
The establishments range from seafood and Mexican restaurants, to steakhouses.
“He still runs the restaurants today, which has benefitted me in terms of being able to play golf and travel the country,” Barbaree said. “Maybe one day after I’m done playing golf, I’ll be able to follow in his footsteps and run the restaurants. I think it’s something I’d enjoy.”
If things keep going Barbaree’s way, though, he will have filled shoes of his own walking his own unique path.
“I started playing golf when I was around five years old, just hitting balls with my dad at Southern Trace Country Club, where we live,” he said. “I guess I just enjoyed it right away. Obviously, there were – and are – times when the game frustrates me, but for the most part, I started loving the game and realized I was pretty good at it at a young age.”
Not only did Philip feel the potential, but his parents saw it, too.
“My dad realized I had talent, so he really pushed it along to see how good I could become,” Barbaree said. “I wanted the same thing, so that’s the plan for now.”
These days, instead of playing his own game, Philip’s father chooses to tag along with his wife, Karen, to see just how good their son can become with his own game.
Technically, Barbaree is a fifth-year student at LSU. Not only did both parents and one of his two older sisters attend LSU, but Philip’s good friend – PGA TOUR player Sam Burns – was also playing golf for the Tigers. As a result of wanting to be on the same team as Burns for at least a semester, Barbaree started his LSU career a semester early.
“That was a motivating factor for me to come here and it has been really good,” he said. “I knew Sam was probably going to leave early, but I really wanted to have at least a semester playing with him. So, starting early gave me the chance to do that.”
Since he was little, Barbaree’s short game of chipping and putting has always been most consistent and the best part of his game.
In terms of isolating a most significant achievement thus far in his young career, Barbaree needs no time lining that one up.
“Winning the U.S. Junior in 2015 is what I’m most proud of so far,” he said. “That’s probably the most prestigious junior tournament in the world and is something I’ve always dreamed of. To see my name on the trophy with really great plyers, like Tiger Woods, is incredibly gratifying.”
Barbaree’s win at the U.S. Junior in Bluffton, South Carolina, made headlines throughout the golf industry, as the 17-year-old rallied from 5 down with eight to play to match the biggest comeback in tournament history for a 37-hole, 1-up victory over local favorite Andrew Orischak.
While becoming the first Louisiana resident to win the U.S. Junior since 1977 (Willie Wood), he also matched Tiger’s comeback dominance, as Woods rallied from 2 down with two to play to claim the last of his three consecutive titles in 1993. He also came back in the final match of all three of his consecutive U.S. Amateur victories from 1994-96.
With a consistent game that has already brought its fair share of success, Barbaree is among those working their way towards a path to the pro ranks via PGA TOUR University.
“PGA TOUR University definitely gives us college players a great opportunity,” he said. “In fact, this year, I probably wouldn’t have come back had it not been for PGA TOUR University. That just gives us a great opportunity to further our careers and we wouldn’t have that otherwise. It just came at a perfect time, I think.”
So, in the unlikely event this golf thing doesn’t break just right, Barbaree may have found another career recourse beyond the restaurant industry. During the shutdown this past summer, Barbaree actually picked up something other than just a golf club. The fan of country music taught himself to play a little guitar.
“It’s not terrible, but it’s not great, either,” he said. “I’m not ready to head that direction just yet.”
He likely won’t need to. With his sights set high and a game that’s taking greater shape every day, there is no laying up for Philip Barbaree.
“I definitely see myself playing the PGA TOUR and majors,” he said. “And, yeah, I can see myself winning at that level, too.”