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Brian Barnes, a nine-time winner on the European Tour and a veteran of six Ryder Cups, has passed away after a short illness. He was 74.
Famous for having beaten Jack Nicklaus twice in one day during the 1975 Ryder Cup, Surrey-born Barnes represented England at international level until 1971 when he joined the Scottish PGA.
Taught to play by his father, who was Secretary at Burnham & Berrow Golf Club, he turned professional in 1964 shortly after winning the British Youths Open Amateur Championship.
He subsequently became one of the leading lights of European golfers throughout the 1970s, finishing no worse than eighth on the Order of Merit between 1972 and 1981. The first of his nine victories came in the 1972 Martini International at Abridge Golf Club, making him the first Scot to win on the European Tour.
However, it was in the Ryder Cup that he really made his name. He played in six consecutive matches between 1969 and 1979, amassing a 10–14–1 win-loss-tie record.
Two of those wins came on the same day in 1975 against Jack Nicklaus.
Nicklaus arrived at Laurel Valley playing what he called “the best golf of my life”. He had won his fifth Masters earlier that year and his fourth US PGA Championship in the August.
However, he was no match for Barnes in their morning singles match on the final day, going down 4&3.
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Furious at having lost, Nicklaus reportedly demanded: “Give me that Barnes again.”
On the first tee in the afternoon, he told Barnes, “You’ve beaten me
once, but there’s no way you’re going to beat me again.” Barnes
ultimately proved him wrong, winning 2&1.
Later, Barnes would say: “I’m not trying to be blasé about it, but it
was matchplay and I can get round a course, you know. So what’s so
special? Mind you, Jack was pissed off,”
In 1995, he became eligible for seniors’ golf and won the Senior British Open that year. Twelve months later, he
became the first man to successfully defend the title. He went on to
play on the Champions Tour in the US before arthritis forced him to
retire prematurely in 2000.
A larger than life figure, he was the son-in-law of former Open champion Max Faulkner.
His death comes just weeks after the passing of another Ryder Cup star, Gordon Brand Jnr.
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