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State Amateur: Barna glad to be back in the game

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. - Former Hurricane High School golfer Aaron "Boonie" Barna had heard plenty of reasons why his golf game went south.

One, in particular, had to do with his discovering a social life after a prep career that was golf all day, every day.

The Marshall University junior said it was more than that, but his return to the State Amateur for the first time since 2009 showed there's still some fight in his golf clubs.

Ironically, the 22-year-old Barna made the cut at the 94th State Amateur, shooting 13-over through two rounds that included three double bogeys on Tuesday on the Greenbrier Course. He missed the cut at the Amateur in 2007, '08 and '09.

"It was many things, it's hard to explain," said Barna, who has two years of eligibility remaining at Marshall, but hasn't been able to crack the top four for the Herd. "I sort of lost my drive to play. Then, I eventually lost my game. Then, it was embarrassing to go out so I didn't play as much."

Barna failed to qualify for the Amateur the last three years, despite playing the qualifier on his home course, Sleepy Hollow Golf Club.

Barna redshirted his sophomore year, leaving him two years of eligibility on the golf team. However, he graduates in May and will immediately jump into the natural gas industry. His major at Marshall is in civil engineering.

"I didn't really have a life other than golf in high school," said Barna, who was the Class AAA State High School Tournament medalist in 2007, and lost in a playoff to Wheeling Park's Marshall Hone in 2008 and lost in a playoff to teammate Brian Anania in 2009. "I sort of figured out other things mattered. Especially doing civic engineering, it's pretty impossible to play golf too."

Barna was part of the Hurricane golf team that won three consecutive Class AAA state titles (2007, '08, '09) on a team that included Anania, who is tied for fifth entering today's third round of the Amateur.

"I guess my thought going into college was all golf, but that quickly changed when I got to school," he said. "I got a social life."

His team still talks about the days when the Redskins were the kings of the hill in West Virginia prep golf, and he aknowledges he and his prep teammates were happy to see Wheeling Park fall short of a third consecutive state title last October.

Although Barna acknowledges it's hard to admit golf isn't the best thing he has going now, he's ready to move on and follow in the footsteps of his father and his brother in the natural gas industry.

"I won't play professionally, but I can still play amateur events," he said. "I'm doing an internship at Columbia Gas in Charleston right now. I haven't played hardly at all this summer. It's a differently feeling playing competitively."

He also doesn't count on continuing to play in the State Amateur. His brother is working for Houston-based Associated Pipeline and Barna said he'll probably move not long after graduating in May.

What he has, however, is two more rounds in the Amateur and the memories of winning consecutive titles.

"It was awesome, we still talk about it all the time," he said. "Me, Sam (Booth), Wyatt (Burgess)."

Contact Assistant Sports Editor Rich Stevens at richstevens@dailymail.com or 304-348-4837.


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