AmateursJanuary 28, 2018

Big Sunday move from junior golfer lands him Jones Cup title—and a PGA Tour exemption

Garrett Barber
David Cannon

A victory at the Jones Cup Junior Invitational in December 2016 helped propel Garrett Barber to an impressive junior season in 2017. The highlights included being a member of the victorious U.S. Junior Presidents Cup team and winning the AJGA’s oldest and arguably most prestigious event, the Rolex Tournament of Champions in November.

So what might winning the title at the junior event's even more prestigious big brother, the Jones Cup Invitational, do for the 17-year-old high school senior in 2018? The Stuart, Fla., native—heading to LSU to play college golf in the fall—is anxious to find out after closing with a tournament-record six-under 66 at Ocean Forest Golf Club and then defeating Vanderbilt senior Theo Humphrey in a playoff to claim the title in the prestigious amateur event. He knows this much—he'll be playing in the PGA Tour's RSM Classic next fall, a prize that comes with winning the prestigious amateur title.

Barber began Sunday’s third and final round on St. Simons Island, Ga., three strokes off the lead and tied for eighth, but began to make up ground early with birdies on three of his first five holes. After making the turn in two under, Barber took control with an eagle on the 10th hole (holing out from 200 yards) and three straight birdies on Nos. 12-14.

If not for a bogey on the 18th hole, when he lipped out a 10-footer for par, Barber would have claimed the title outright. The bogey, combined with a four-foot birdie putt from Humphrey, who shot an impressive closing 67, forced extra holes, the duo tied with four-under 212s.

Credit Barber, though. Instead of kicking himself for the missed opportunity, he regrouped and won with a birdie on the first playoff hole after hitting his approach to five feet.

“This is probably one of my best putting rounds,” Barber told Golfweek's Brentley Romine afterward. “Usually ball-striking is my strength. Today, pretty much all of them went in. … I had that feeling a little bit [that it was my day].”

Jake Fendt, the leader after the first and second rounds, missed the playoff by a single stroke, posting a final-round two-under-par 70. Jackson Suber was also T-3 after a closing four-under-par 68. Last year's winner Braden Thornberry, the reigning NCAA champ from Mississippi, finished T-8.