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.
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.'
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