#AskLav: Do the right thing


Boy, doing the right thing sure generates a lot of vitriol.

Blayne Barber disqualified himself from Q-School six days after first stage ended because he thought he signed an incorrect scorecard. By now, you have read the story.

Immediately, I thought: Wow, what an admirable gesture – after all, Barber, a first-year pro, could have buried that little detail and proceeded on to second stage in pursuit of his first PGA Tour card.

Then, I marveled: That’s what makes golf so great, huh? Policing yourself, protecting the integrity of the game.

And then, finally, I believed: Yep, karma is definitely on this kid’s side now.

What happened?

Before long, Barber’s admirable gesture was construed as a conniving act, and among a certain populace he wasn’t seen as virtuous at all but rather a cheat who could no longer live with his guilt.

The Morality Police – or at least those shielded by screen names and the anonymity of the Internet – expressed particular delight with that storyline. A sampling of the inane comments:

To me, he basically lied for 6 days before deciding to man up! He was actually thinking about cheating the system by not coming forward. And this makes Barber an ‘honest good guy’? What a croc!

Barber’s waiting so long before admitting his mistake does call into question his character. Like it really should have taken him 6 days to decide if he really caused a leaf to move

Don’t drool over these guys too much. He cheated, realized 5 days later that the cheat wasn’t sitting well with him…and then admitted he cheated.

Nick Clinard knows Blayne Barber, and he knows Barber did the right thing.

Clinard is the head men’s golf coach at Auburn, where Barber, now 22, graduated with a degree in finance. 

For what it’s worth, those on The Plains view Barber’s actions as honorable, even bordering on heroic. Clinard’s email inbox has been flooded with positive messages, and earlier this week, Auburn’s athletic director mentioned the story during the staff department meeting.

The Auburn AD called Barber a “true Auburn man.” He called Barber a “man of integrity.”

“Blayne is a stand-up guy, almost to a fault,” Clinard told me by phone this week. “He is one of the highest-character young men I’ve ever met. Ever. He’s not a cheat. He knows he did the right thing, and that’s the most important. He knows that in his heart.”

Here are this week’s mailbag questions:

@GolfChannel @RyanLavnerGC Do you think Rory going to Nike will be good for him? I know it'll be good for Nike #AskLav

Once he overcomes the inevitable adjustment period with the new sticks, there is little downside to the move. Think about it: He’ll build his brand. He’ll become a global superstar. He’ll be one of the richest athletes in sports. He’ll still be dating a tennis star. He’ll still own that syrupy and powerful swing. And he’ll be just 23. Should be just fine, no?

No, she is not, although I’d recommend spelling her name correctly before asking her out on a date.

@RyanLavnerGC what are your thoughts on Guan wining the Asian Amateur with a long putter at age 14?? #AskLav

Plenty of angles to this story, not least the belly-putter issue. Simply, the kid is playing golf by the rules that are in place, just as recent major winners Keegan BradleyWebb Simpson and Ernie Els have for years. Until the long putter is banned – and golf’s governing bodies are reportedly close to announcing such a decision, perhaps even in the next few weeks – then its use is perfectly legal, purists be damned. That said, many of golf’s heavy-hitters were on hand for the final round in China, and seeing a 14-year-old with a putter jammed into his non-existent belly had to be a bit disconcerting. Indeed, it remains to be seen whether young Tianlang will even be able to use that magic wand next April in Augusta.

@RyanLavnerGC What are your feelings on the boy meets world remake? good idea or great idea? #asklav

Good? Great? No, no. This has quickly entered Greatest Idea Ever category. Beef jerky, Coca-Cola and Boy Meets World every Friday afternoon – that’s my childhood, or at least a 30-minute snapshot of it. After more than a decade off the air, it’ll be fascinating to see how Cory and Topanga have adapted to married life and raised their teenage daughter. Prepare accordingly, DVR.

@RyanLavnerGC too busy to follow golf in the offseason, if you could watch only one event between now and April, which one? #AskLav

Wonder if my boss would go for that excuse? Well, if you have to choose just one, there is no early-season event more intriguing than the Abu Dhabi Championship. Last year the field was stellar – Tiger and Rory and Westy and Luke and Charl and Paddy and Sergio, to name a few. In 2013, the event will mark Tiger and Rory’s first start of the season, which means it’ll be the first first time they’ll be swooshed-out together on the course. And given McIlroy’s high-profile equipment change, it’ll be compelling to see how he performs with the new sticks. The only problem: the nine-hour time difference in Abu Dhabi. So be prepared to suffer a decline in productivity the week of Jan. 14.