By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 11/09/19 11:49am
Jack Nicklaus has led the tributes to Brian Barnes and insisted that “too much” was made of the Scot beating him twice in one day at the 1975 Ryder Cup.
Barnes, who passed away at the age of 74 on Tuesday after a battle with cancer, won 23 tournaments as a professional and remains the only player to successfully defend the Senior Open title, winning back-to-back in 1995 and 1996 at Royal Portrush.
But the Scot is best known for his two Ryder Cup singles victories over Nicklaus at Laurel Valley in 1975, following up a 4&2 victory in the morning with a 2&1 triumph in the afternoon over the Golden Bear, who was reigning Masters and PGA champion at the time.
However, Nicklaus described Barnes as a “tough competitor” and hinted that the two wins amid a heavy defeat for Europe were no real surprise, as he paid a glowing tribute on social media.
To be honest, too much has been made of Barnesy beating me twice on Sunday at the 1975 @rydercup. Why? Because Brian Barnes was a tough competitor! Played in six straight Ryder Cups, won 20 times as a pro and enjoyed success on both sides of the pond—before & after he turned 50! pic.twitter.com/kVoFjS0gvq
— Jack Nicklaus (@jacknicklaus) September 10, 2019
The 18-time major champion wrote: “Barbara & I learned from Brian Barnes’ daughter, Didi, that her father & our friend Brian had lost his battle with cancer & passed. Her words, beautiful & comforting, said if she was to lose her father, it was as close to a “model passing” as any loving family member could want.
“‘Barnesy’ was an absolute character. As much entertainer as golfer. Wasn’t uncommon to see him wear long, dark socks with shorts, tee off with pipe in his mouth & mark his ball with a can!
“To be honest, too much has been made of Barnesy beating me twice on Sunday at the 1975 Ryder Cup. Why? Because Brian Barnes was a tough competitor! Played in six straight Ryder Cups, won 20 times as a pro and enjoyed success on both sides of the pond-before & after he turned 50!
“Barnesy was long & straight off the tee, and, of course, quick of wit. Yes, we will miss Barnesy! Barbara and I want to thank Didi and family for letting us know of this great loss – for the game and to us, personally – as we send our heartfelt thoughts and prayers to all of them.”
Gary Player added: “My sincere condolences to the family & friends of irrepressible Scotsman Brian Barnes. He had a wonderful professional career, winning all around the world, including back to back Senior Open Championships. You will be missed Barnsy. RIP.”
Lee Westwood was one of many professionals to post tributes, adding: “In 1994, my 1st year on tour I was sat in a hotel bar when I got asked to play in the Perrier Four-ball later that year. It was Brian Barnes.
“I immediately jumped at the chance. We didn’t do very well (missed the cut) but it was one of the most fun weeks I’ve ever had out on tour. A brilliant golfer and great story teller and companion. RIP Brian.”