Blayne Barber, zeroing in on the PGA Tour dream, took the fork in a sportsmanship road less traveled.
The 22-year-old golfer cost himself potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars. He confessed to a violation that was iffy at best.
“I continued to pray about it and think about it, and I just did not have any peace about it,” Barber told Golfweek magazine. “I knew I needed to do the right thing. I knew it was going to be disqualification.”
Barber phoned PGA Tour headquarters last week to say he signed an incorrect scorecard at Callaway Gardens Mountain View Golf Course in Pine Mountain, Ga. It happened one week earlier, while Barber was participating in the early part of Q-school, the route to PGA Tour qualification. Barber realized in a post-round conversation with former Auburn teammate Michael Hebert that he should have assessed himself a two-stroke violation — not the one-shot penalty recorded — for moving a leaf in a bunker.
The incorrect scorecard penalty is severe: DQ.
No 2013 tour card.
The Phone Call Heard ‘Round The Golf World found its way to Charleston, where former Clemson All-American Corbin Mills got the news while hanging out with his girlfriend, Clemson and Porter-Gaud graduate Molly Perkins.
Barber’s honesty meant Mills and five other Q-school enrollees went from elimination (tied for 19th place) to tied for 18th and passage to the second stage of qualifying.
“I wasn’t expecting this at all,” Mills said Wednesday. “I was pretty down thinking I just came up a little short.”
Mills and Barber are friends who have played with and against each other a lot.
“It doesn’t surprise me that Blayne would call a penalty that small on himself,” Mills said. “He’s just that kind of person.”
Golf is better off, thanks to Barber.
What if such integrity spread throughout sports?
Lance and the Saints
What if the Pine Mountain ripple produced a wave of breaking news:
PARIS — Multi-time Tour de France champ Lance Armstrong came clean today, offering to provide lectures on the dangers of performance-enhancing drugs to children throughout the world and serve crepes to bike-racing fans in Marseille — all at his own expense.
NEW ORLEANS — The Saints quit whining, admitting their bounty scandal was “unethical and goofy.” The NFL club unilaterally agreed to donate $14.2 million and six Drew Brees game-used helmets to charities in the Gulf Coast region.
INDIANAPOLIS — The NCAA, stung by years of criticism for going to easy on football and basketball cheaters, announced sweeping disciplinary policy changes. The ruling body of college athletics said the words “postseason ban” will replace “secondary violations” and warned Kentucky head basketball coach John Calipari to “be careful.”
NEW YORK — Major League Baseball voided all individual records achieved by known steroid users, said Hank Aaron has been restored as the career home run leader (755). Plus, Bud Selig named Blayne Barber assistant to the commissioner.
‘Tons of respect’
Mills was one of the first to praise Barber on Twitter: “Tons of respect for @BlayneBarberAU! That shows a lot about someone’s character! #classact #thankyou!”
The story comes in layers of admirable character.
Note that Barber didn’t actually see his club brush a leaf, but after consultation with Shayne Barber, his caddie and brother, applied the original 1-stroke penalty.
Mills has seen many thoughtful acts. He grew up in Russia and Italy, where his parents served as missionaries. They settled in Anderson for his high school years. After a dazzling three-year run on the Clemson golf team, Mills turned pro in June.
He and Barber were teammates at the Palmer Cup, a U.S. vs. Europe college version of the Ryder Cup.
Suddenly, Mills is preparing for a Q-school second stage starting next week in Brooksville, Fla.
An Auburn Tiger gave way to a Clemson Tiger for the chance to challenge Tiger Woods.
“It stinks for him, but I’m very happy,” Mills said. “I’m excited for this opportunity. I’m grateful.”
Reach Gene Sapakoff at 937-5593 or on Twitter @sapakoff.