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Devil Ball Golf

Six days after the end of a tournament, golfer disqualifies himself

Jay Busbee
Devil Ball Golf

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Blayne Barber. (Getty Images)

Here's one heck of a painful yet admirable story. To understand exactly how painful and admirable, if you're not a golf fan, you need to know a couple facts going in:

1. Golf is a game of self-imposed, self-administered rules. Particularly when cameras aren't around, the burden is on you to admit if you violated those rules.

2. Q School is a series of golf tournaments in which participants compete to earn their PGA Tour card, entitling them to play on the big-money tour the next year. This is the last year of Q School; next year it will be replaced by a completely different system.

All right, so, with that in mind, we give you the story of one Blayne Barber. An exceptional amateur player -- he's been a member of the U.S. Walker Cup team -- he advanced easily out of last week's Q School first stage. But something continued to trouble him about his play in the tournament's second round at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Ga. Specifically, one tiny leaf.

Barber wasn't sure if he'd brushed a leaf in the sand trap of the course's 13th hole. His caddy, who happens to also be his brother, insisted that he hadn't touched it. But just to be on the safe side, he penalized himself a stroke.

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Problem is, the penalty for such an infraction is two strokes, not one. Because his caddy kept insisting there was no movement of the leaf, Barber kept on playing the tournament's next two rounds, rationalizing that it was an unnecessary penalty. But his conscience wouldn't let him go.

"I continued to pray about it and think about it, and I just did not have any peace about it," Barber later told Golfweek. "I knew I needed to do the right thing. I knew it was going to be disqualification."

He called the PGA Tour six days after the tournament's end, and submitted to disqualification because he'd signed an incorrect scorecard. His disqualification moved a full six players into the next stage, because those players tied for 19th and now were tied for 18th, the cut line for advancing.

One sad irony: Barber was five strokes ahead of the cut line, so even the added penalty wouldn't have hurt him. Still, Barber is content with his decision, even though it means he'll have to qualify tournament-by-tournament throughout 2013.

"I just feel peace about it," Barber said. "Doing the right thing and doing what I know is right in my heart and in my conscience is more important than short-term success."

-Follow Jay Busbee on Twitter at @jaybusbee.

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