Barber Finds Himself in Familiar Territory Again

By Marty HenwoodMarch 1, 2001, 5:00 pm
Aaron Barber has seen this script before. Only this time he is hoping for a different ending.
Last weekend, in the Myrtle Beach Open, the Canadian Tour's inaugural event of the 2001 season, Barber was in the penthouse for most of the weekend, sharing the lead with Ireland's Eamonn Brady heading into Sunday's final round. But after making the turn one stroke up on Brady, a Tour victory clearly in his crosshairs, the 28-year-old Orlando, Fla., native admittedly lost his focus, eventually having to settle for a second-place payday. He isn't about to let the opportunity pass him by again.Myrtle Beach Open
On Thursday afternoon, Barber fired a Barefoot Resort Greg Norman course record 7-under-par 65 to grab sole possession atop the leader board after opening-round play of the Barefoot Classic in Myrtle Beach, two strokes ahead of five others, including Canadians Todd Fanning (Winnipeg, MB) and Craig Matthew (Ile Bizard, QC).
'It was a good round for me, especially after what happened in the late stages last weekend,' admitted Barber. 'I felt very relaxed out there, it was almost like a practice round with my friends.'
On Sunday, in the cold and rain that had surrounded Barefoot Resort from almost the get-go last Thursday, things had been going according to plan for the 6'0, 165-pounder-until sister Janel left him. The 24-year-old sibling, acting as a caddy since the first round, had to leave big brother after nine holes to catch a flight back to Minnesota in order to return to work. While Barber refuses to admit Janel leaving had anything to do with his downfall on the back nine, it was obvious there was something missing over those final holes.
'We just had a good camaraderie going-she knows me psychologically, she tells me when I am getting anxious,' he added. 'If I was getting nervous, she'd tell a joke to loosen me up. I knew she would have to go, and I even tried to change her flight. I learned a valuable lesson-I should have had a backup plan.'
Barber didn't need a backup plan Thursday. Starting his day on the back nine, he waltzed to a remarkable 31 on his opening nine holes en route to the bettering the Norman benchmark by one stroke. Despite stumbling down the stretch, when he could only manage bogey-par on his final two holes, Barber was pleased with his round, but cautioned he must keep his concentration right through Sunday in order to be in contention for the $24,000 top prize.
'I want to stay aggressive, I know these guys are going to shoot low scores. I can't afford to allow myself to get tentative again.'
Click here for Full-Field scores from the Barefoot Classic!
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Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 25, 2018, 4:45 pm

Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

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Hahn jabs USGA over possible ball rollback

By Will GrayFebruary 25, 2018, 4:43 pm

As debate continues to heat up over possible sweeping changes to the golf ball amid distance concerns, PGA Tour pro James Hahn chimed in to question the merits of a potential rollback.

The ball and distance debate gained traction earlier this week when Jack Nicklaus offered that the ball should be rolled back to the approximate distances achieved in 1995, and he put blame for the current situation squarely at the feet of Titleist. That drew a response from former Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein, who put the onus back on the governing bodies.

It's an issue that will likely be discussed for months to come, but Hahn took to Twitter to throw a jab toward the USGA and play devil's advocate on some key arguments related to a possible rollback:

Hahn, who has two career PGA Tour wins and lost in a playoff last month at the Sony Open, ranks 55th on Tour this season in driving distance with an average of 301.2 yards off the tee.

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Na fires back over slow play criticism from cricketer

By Will GrayFebruary 25, 2018, 4:00 pm

Kevin Na fired back over recent criticism he received about his purported slow play at last week's Genesis Open.

Kevin Pietersen is a retired English cricketer with more than 3.6 million followers on Twitter. He tweeted a video of Na, known as one of the slower players on the PGA Tour, taking more than a minute to line up and hit what he described as a "Tap In" during the final round at Riviera:

He then added another video of himself on a green in Dubai, where he again called out Na and showed how long he believed it should take for a player to brush in a short putt:

Na has faced his fair share of slow play criticism, but this time he decided to defend himself. Na isn't on Twitter, but he took to Instagram to tell Pietersen to "stick to your own sport," pointing out both the length of the putt in question and the stakes that were involved during the final round, when Na went on to tie for second behind Bubba Watson:

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Pepperell wins his first European Tour title in Qatar

By Associated PressFebruary 25, 2018, 3:31 pm

DOHA, Qatar - Eddie Pepperell survived a tense finish to win the Qatar Masters at the Doha Golf Club on Sunday for his maiden European Tour title.

The 27-year-old Englishman held off a spirited challenge from compatriot Oliver Fisher, who needed a third successive birdie on the 18th hole to force a playoff, but had his putt from six feet slip past the hole for a par.

Pepperell shot a 2-under-par 70 for a four-day tally of 18 under 270, while Fisher, who started the day tied for the lead, could only manage a 71.

Sweden's Marcus Kinhult (68) finished third at 16-under.

The No. 154-ranked Pepperell made things difficult for himself with a bogey on the 15th hole, but hit a superb wedge to three feet on the next to get back to 18 under again.

Fisher, who appeared to have fallen out of contention with three bogeys starting on the third hole, stormed back with birdies on the 14th, 16th and 17th holes.

On the last, Pepperell laid up with his second into the thick rough, made wet and unwieldy by rain in the Qatar capital, but found the green in three and two-putted for the win when Fisher missed his birdie putt.

Full-field scores from the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters

''I did the things I needed to do, I didn't play fantastic but I won ugly and for the first win to be ugly is good. Hopefully, I'll have some prettier ones in the future,'' said Pepperell.

''I knew I was playing well, especially tee to green, so I expected a lot of myself this week and I guess to pull it off is amazing. When Oli birdied the 17th, that was when it really caught up with me that I was only one ahead. I was in my own zone, I knew I had a couple of shots of lead but Oli did great. It was a tough front nine for him and I had to stay right in my own way and out of the two guys' way because they were struggling a bit and it's sometimes easy to get dragged into that.''

Fisher was disappointed, but saw the silver lining in the way he fought back.

''It went all the way to the last hole which, after my front nine, was what I was hoping for on the back nine,'' said Fisher, who won the 2011 Czech Open, but recorded his first top-three finish since the 2014 Africa Open.

''I hit a lot of good shots coming down the back nine and gave myself a lot of good chances, but there were just too many bogeys today, four in total, so you're never going to win a tournament making that many mistakes on a Sunday. But at least I pressed him all the way.''

Italian Renato Paratore (66) had the low round of the day and finished tied for fourth place at 15 under par, where he was joined by the Spanish pair of Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and Pablo Larrazabal along with Gregory Havret of France.