Brian Barnes, the former Ryder Cup player and nine-time European Tour winner, has died at the age of 74.
Born in Addington, England, Barnes represented Scotland and made more than 300 appearances across the European Tour and Staysure Tour – then known as the Senior Tour.
He also played in The Ryder Cup on six successive occasions from 1969-1979, famously beating Jack Nicklaus twice in one day at The 1975 Ryder Cup at Laurel Valley Golf Club in Pennsylvania.
Barnes was a prominent figure in European golf during the 1970s and 1980s, finishing eighth on the Order of Merit at the end of the maiden European Tour season in 1972. He then went on to finish inside the top ten of the Order of Merit in each of the following six seasons.
His first of nine European Tour victories came at the 1972 Martini International, but he waited two years to taste success again, when he claimed the 1974 Dutch Open. In the following five years he won six titles, including the French Open, Spanish Open and Italian Open.
His final European Tour victory came at the Haig Whisky TPC in 1981, a year after his good friend and renowned Ryder Cup partner Bernard Gallacher clinched the title.
The pair joined forces ten times at four Ryder Cups, claiming 5.5 points for their team, including three at The 1979 Ryder Cup – the first of a new era which included players from continental Europe for the first time.
Barnes’ most notable Ryder Cup achievement came in 1975 at Laurel Valley, when he defeated then 14-time Major Champion and World Golf Hall of Fame Member Nicklaus twice in Sunday’s Singles matches. He triumphed in the morning singles 4&2 before reigning victorious once again following his 2&1 win in the afternoon singles.
Gallacher today led the tributes to his former Ryder Cup partner.
He said: “I’ve lost two great friends over the last couple of years with Tommy Horton and now Brian passing. Brian was a larger than life character and we were very close when we both played on the Tour. We kept in touch over the years, which I was very happy with, and our families were very close.
“He played great matches in The Ryder Cup over six appearances, but we’ll never forget 1975 at Laurel Valley. When he beat Jack Nicklaus in the morning singles we were so pleased for him. Then we found out that Arnold Palmer went to Bernard Hunt, our Captain, saying that Jack wanted to play Brian again – they agreed if they wanted to face each other again to let them.
“It was an amazing moment for British golf when Brian won in the afternoon. The Americans couldn’t believe it and they were all congratulating him saying they never though anybody could beat Jack.”
After turning 50 in 1995, Barnes joined the senior ranks and went on to win back-to-back Senior Open Championships at Royal Portrush in 1995, the year he also won the Senior Tour Order of Merit, and 1996.
He also claimed a maiden victory on the PGA Tour Champions at the Canada Senior Open in 1998 before arthritis brought his career to an end and he moved into the world of television, becoming a commentator for Sky Sports.
David Williams, Chairman of the European Tour, announced the news of Barnes’ passing during a meeting of the Tour’s board on Tuesday, with several of Barnes’ peers among the directors in attendance.
He said: “Brian made a huge contribution to golf during the formative years of the European Tour and through his six Ryder Cup appearances.
“He will always be rightly remembered for defeating Jack twice in one day in 1975 but his impact was felt far beyond that as one of the Tour’s great characters and entertainers, something which endured throughout his career on the Senior Tour, when he became the first player to defend the Senior Open Championship, and into his work as a television analyst. Our thoughts and sympathies are with Brian’s family and friends.”
Barnes passed away at home on Monday September 9 with his daughter Didi and son Guy by his side.