By HARRIET PROTHRO PENROD, Journal Sports
After making some changes in his game over the past few months, Philip Barbaree Jr. says he is “feeling really good” about his golf game these days.
“I’m seeing those changes pay off on the course,” the Byrd High graduate said Monday night from his latest tournament stop in Las Vegas.
Last week Barbaree finished in a tie for eighth place at the PGA Tour Canada Q-School event in San Jacinto, Calif., which guarantees him playing starts in the season’s first-half tournaments, beginning this summer.
“If I play well,” the former LSU star said, “I could play in 11 events.”
The goal is the PGA Tour, and Barbaree’s finish last week gets him one step closer. “The top 10 guys on the PGA Canada Tour go straight to the final stage of the Korn Ferry (Tour) qualifying,” he said, “so my (first) goal is to play well in Canada because that feeds into the Korn Ferry Tour.”
The PGA Tour Canada is connected to the Korn Ferry Tour, which feeds into the ultimate goal; the top 25 on the Korn Ferry money list at the end of the year are given PGA Tour membership for the next season.
If last week is any indication, Barbaree is on the right track. “I started off really nice,” he said. “That’s how I’ve been playing. I made birdies early and not many mistakes.”
Barbaree shot a 3-under 69 in Tuesday’s opening round but followed it with a 3-over 75 on Wednesday. While he came back on Friday to shoot another 3-under in the final round that moved him into the eighth-place tie, the former No. 1 junior golfer in the world credits his third-round 1-over as the deciding factor.
“Technically, that was my best round. The conditions were crazy tough,” he said of the event held at the Soboba Springs Golf Course, “but I hung in there. That 1-over is what moved me from 25th place into the tie for eighth. It gave me the opportunity to play well (in the final round).”
The 2015 U.S. Junior Champion was hoping to continue his strong play in this week’s Advocates Professional Golf Association event at TPC Las Vegas. The only thing strong, however, was the wind.
“We had crazy winds today,” Barbaree said after his first round Monday was cut short after three holes. “It was 40 miles-per-hour constant with gusts up to 60 miles-per-hour.”
The APGA cancelled the first round and announced the event would resume and conclude today as a one-round shootout.
Between his APGA events and the start of the PGA Canada Tour scheduled for the first week of June, the 23-year-old says he will be playing in some Korn Ferry Tour qualifiers and his U.S. Open local qualifier May 9 in Sarasota, Fla.
“Right now, I’m concentrating on playing well on the Canadian Tour,” said Barbaree.
That would lead to his ultimate goal of joining close friend and former LSU teammate Sam Burns on the PGA Tour.
Barbaree got a taste of the big time before turning pro in 2021. Thanks to his being named the American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) Tour Rolex Junior Player of the Year in 2015, Barbaree earned exemption to the 2016 Fed Ex St. Jude Classic in Memphis as an amateur and played in the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills (he missed the cut in both events).
With his game trending in the right direction, Barbaree could be joining his friend soon.
“I talk to him weekly, if not daily,” Barbaree says of Burns, the Calvary Baptist graduate and three-time winner on the PGA Tour who is currently ranked No. 10 in the world and sits at No. 3 in the FedEx Cup standings. “It helps having him to ask advice – talking about things he has already been through. His success puts things in perspective for me. It motivates me and shows me that I’m not that far off.”
Photo by CHRISTI LANG
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