The consequences of doing the right thing
Blayne Barber's decision to err on the side of caution likely cost him is PGA Tour dream
Published on Wednesday, Nov. 07, 2012 09:10AM EST Last updated on Wednesday, Nov. 07, 2012 09:46AM EST
Blayne Barber should have been making preparations for the second stage of PGA Tour Q-School. Instead, he couldn’t shake the feeling that something wasn’t quite right after finishing his first stage qualifier in Georgia last month.
According to a published report in Golfweek, Barber called the PGA Tour back on Nov 2nd - six days after he had easily advanced out of the first stage qualifier - to report that he had signed an incorrect scorecard. Barber had applied the wrong penalty to himself following an incident during second round of play at the Callaway Gardens Mountain View Golf Course. The former U.S. Walker Cup team member thought he’d brushed a leaf while playing out of the bunker on the 13th hole. His caddie was certain he did not but Barber wasn’t so sure. He informed his playing partners of the infraction and added one stroke to his score. It wasn’t until after the round that he learned the penalty for such an infraction was actually two strokes. Now he had a huge decision to make. Persuaded by his caddie to continue playing because he felt he had done nothing wrong in the first place, Barber completed the final two rounds and finished tied for fourth, more than enough to advance to the second stage. But the incident on day two continued to gnaw in his gut and after some soul searching, he decided the only thing to do was to report his error to the PGA. Because he had signed an incorrect scorecard as a result of applying the wrong penalty, Barber was disqualified. His dream of making the PGA Tour was over.
The ironic thing is, had Barber applied the correct two stroke penalty at the time, he still would have advanced to the next stage.
Barber’s disqualification also gave six other players, who left the course thinking their PGA dreams were done, a new lease on life. Jason Arnold, Corbin Mills, Jonathan Moore, Chesson Hadley, Robert Jan-Derksen and Maarten Lafeber were all elevated into the second stage.
Having given up his Q-School qualifying spot, Barber is now limited to Monday qualifiers and sponsor exemptions next year in order to play on the PGA and Web.com Tours. But he’ll gladly take those options over any lingering doubts about his PGA status had he made it that far.
“I just feel peace about it,” Barber told Golfweek. “Doing the right thing and doing what I know is right in my heart and in my conscience is more important than short-term success.”
FANTASY FODDER: The PGA Tour’s fantasy columnist doesn’t foresee a fantasy year for Brad Fritsch of Ottawa in 2013.
Rob Bolton, who writes a regular column on fantasy golf for the tour’s website, pgatour.com, expects Fritsch to finish no higher than No. 150 on the money list next year.
Fritsch, 34, graduated to the PGA Tour by finishing in 18th place on the lower-tier Web.com Tour money list this year. He didn’t have a victory but posted seven top-10 finishes, four of which came in his last eight starts.
But Bolton apparently doesn’t think that consistency and momentum will continue, at least not to the same degree.
“The lone Canuck among the graduates ranked 29th on the tour [Web.com] in distance off the tee but 90th in birdies or better on par-fives,” Bolton writes. “It suggests he’s still wrangling consistency in managing his game tee-to-green.
On the brighter side, Bolton writes, “He ranked 38th in birdie average, ninth in birdies or better on par-threes and 21st in birdies or better on par-fours, so there’s some depth in the bag.”
Bolton predicts that just four of the 25 Web.com graduates will finish inside the top 125 on the PGA Tour money list next year and thus keep their playing cards for 2014. (The four are Casey Wittenberg, Luke Guthrie, Russell Henley and Luke List). He expects another nine to finish between No. 126 and 150 to secure part-time status for 2014.
Fritsch and other Web.com graduates from 2012 are at a disadvantage next year because the PGA Tour season ends earlier, right after the Tour Championship, under a revised schedule. The Fall Series tournaments that follow will be considered part of the 2014 season.
Fritsch will also face the disadvantage of seeing many of the PGA Tour venues for the first time. He’s made just six career starts on the big tour.
HAPPIEST PLACE ON EARTH: Players outside No. 125 on the PGA Tour’s money list are hoping that Walt Disney World in Orlando will be their magic kingdom this week. They’re looking to get inside the top 125 at the season-ending Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic at Disney to lock up their playing privileges for 2013. Those just inside will be watching their backs. The consolation for players who end play Sunday at No. 126 through No. 150 is part-time status in 2013. Billy Mayfair is the bubble boy this year. The 46-year-old American holds the precarious 125th spot heading into the tournament. He knows all about beating the buzzer. He was one of four players last year who played their way into the top 125 at the season finale.
LOVE AFFAIR: Even though his 20 career wins make him a lifetime member on the PGA Tour, Davis Love III still has an amazing streak on the line. His tie for fourth at the McGladrey Classic last month moved him up to No. 98 on the PGA Tour money list with $973,707. That gives the 48-year-old Love a distinction that not even Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus or Tiger Woods can claim. Love has never finished out of the top 125 on the money list, a streak that dates to his rookie season in 1986. Love’s streak nearly ended in 2008, when he was returning from major ankle surgery. He was well outside the top 125 when he had a pair of top 10s in the Fall Series, then finished it off by winning at Disney. That was his last win. Not only has he kept his card every year, Love will be going for his 27th consecutive year of finishing in the top 100 on the money list. And if he can play well enough to earn $26,293, it would be his 18th consecutive year of making $1 million or more.
O-FER: Mike Weir has missed the cut in all 13 of his PGA Tour events this year. He is a combined 109-over par in 23 rounds and has yet to break 70. The closest he came was at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am when he shot 70 in the opening round. Four times he has shot over 80. Weir plans to use one of two lifetime career earnings exemptions to regain his PGA Tour status in 2013.
“I think that it is fairly well acknowledged that length generally is probably the biggest issue in the game and it doesn’t just mean how far pros hit it. If we are talking about equipment side of things the length issue is probably the most important because tees are moved back. Greens are not changed because people are putting with a long putter.” -- Adam Scott on the issue of banning the long / belly putter
Files from the Associated Press were used in this report. Jeff Brooke contributed to this report.