Former Razorback and longtime professional golfer Miller Barber passed away this week at the age of 82 in Scottsdale, Arizona. Known for his distinctive golf swing, Barber made a record combined 1,297 starts on the PGA TOUR and Champions Tour during his storied career.
Born March 31, 1931 in Shreveport, La., Barber grew up in Texarkana, Texas. He began taking golf lessons at age 13. While in high school, Barber even received some instruction from legendary golfer Byron Nelson when he stopped in Texarkana to practice for The Masters.
Barber played on the University of Arkansas men’s golf team in 1953 and 1954 after transferring from Texas A&M University. He also had a short stint on the Razorback football team. Barber graduated from the University of Arkansas in 1954 and remains as one of the most recognizable golfers in school history.
"The Razorback program and the entire golf community has lost a friend and a true legend of the game," Arkansas head men’s golf coach Brad McMakin said. "Miller Barber began the tradition of excellence of the University of Arkansas Golf program and brought recognition to our university with his tremendous his success on the PGA TOUR and Champions Tour. He enjoyed a long and distinguished career and his legacy will continue to be celebrated by his alma mater, our golf program and Razorbacks everywhere."
After graduation from Arkansas, Barber spent four years in the Air Force before turning to professional golf. It didn’t take long for Barber to make his mark. He won his first PGA TOUR event in 1964 at the Cajun Classic Open Invitational. It was the first of 11 PGA TOUR event wins and 131 top-10 finishes. Barber earned at least one PGA TOUR victory in every year from 1967 to 1974, a feat matched on by Jack Nicklaus in that span. He was the 10th player to surpass the $1 million mark in career PGA TOUR earnings.
Barber found great success on the newly formed Champions Tour shortly after the circuit began. He was consistently among the Tour leaders in the 1980s leading the money list in 1981 and 1982. He won a total of 24 Champion Tour titles, including three U.S. Senior Opens and five senior majors overall. Barber ranks fourth on the Champions Tour all-time wins list. He won at least one Champions Tour event for nine consecutive years (1981-89).
Barber, nicknamed "Mr. X", also played on two Ryder Cup teams during his career. Barber is a member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame and was inducted into the University of Arkansas Sports Hall of Honor in 1990.