Barber, Nash continue growing process

Aaron Barber and Simon Nash were hurt by poor third rounds this weekend.

Matt Perkins

HUDSON, Wis. – In a field of players who all have their minds set on making it to the PGA Tour, two former Minnesota men’s golfers were content with making the cut during the weekend at the 2005 Scholarship America Showdown.

Aaron Barber and Simon Nash took to Troy Burne Golf Club in pursuit of their first tour victory, and things looked good going into Saturday, with both golfers sitting tied for 20th at 3-under-par. But Saturday would be their undoing, as they both fell out of contention with tough third rounds in the Nationwide Tour event.

But they both said it was the experience under their belts that got them this far. And both of their experiences this weekend can be tied to their years as Gophers.

Barber’s opportunity

Barber shot a second-round 67 on Friday after Thursday’s even-par 70. He said he felt good about his game going into the weekend at Troy Burne, a course former Gophers golfer and longtime PGA pro Tom Lehman helped design.

But things went downhill for Barber on Saturday, and he finished with a 7-over round of 77.

But Barber said the process he has been going through on the tour this year is similar to the process he once went through at Minnesota.

“I didn’t even play my first two years there,” Barber said. “I mean, I couldn’t even break 80.”

But Barber said he couldn’t say enough about what it did for him to have the support of his coaches and fellow teammates to stick with his game.

In the end, Barber finished out his career with the Gophers as an All-American in 1996.

Out of college, Barber first played on the Canadian Tour, and from there jumped to the PGA Tour in 2003. It was a jump that was only amplified by the fact that, in one of his first tournaments, he was paired with Annika Sorenstam.

Barber said he is now trying to make the process of getting back to the PGA Tour less strenuous by taking his time, much like he did with the Gophers.

“I owe everything I have to the opportunity I was given at Minnesota,” he said. “Everything.”

Nash compiling resume

Nash, a native of Australia, hasn’t played in many U.S. tournaments since graduating in 2003, but he is still trying to get his name out there. And it seemed like it worked through his first two rounds.

After Friday’s round, Nash received praise from both his round partners and spectators – who mostly told him how fun it was to watch him. Gophers assistant coach Andrew Tank, who caddied for Nash, said Nash just has a pretty swing, and that’s why everyone loves watching him play.

“He is a really solid ball striker,” Tank said. “The flight of his ball in the air is strong and straight. When he is on, he is a lot of fun to watch.”

As the group following him got increasingly bigger Friday, Nash remained collected.

Sitting at 1-over with just six holes left in Friday’s round and the projected cut at even, Nash birdied four consecutive holes and parred the last two to finish safely under the cut.

“I got in a groove out there, and that always feels good,” Nash said. “This course is playing amazing, it’s beautiful.”

Like Barber, Nash fell Saturday with a round of 74. But Nash said the pressure he dealt with late Friday was similar to the pressure surrounding the Gophers’ 2002 NCAA Championship run.

Tank said seeing former Gophers come through in those situations is exactly what they’ve come to expect.

“Our goal is to help those guys have the opportunities to be in those spots,” Tank said. “We want them to have that pressure, to play against some of the best competition around. We do that, we’ve done our job.”