PGA Tour professionals Andres Gonzales and Troy Kelly know about big-money stakes on the golf course.
And as far as independent tournaments go, this weekend’s second annual Tacoma Open offers a chance at a pretty fat paycheck — the winner goes home with $10,000.
So it would seem like easy pickings for two of the South Sound’s highest-level golfers, right?
Not if Tacoma professional Derek Barron has anything to say about it.
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Barron played in the inaugural event last year at Meadow Park Golf Course. After finishing tied for third, he is the top returner (along with Fircrest’s T.J. Bordeaux).
And Barron, an Emerald Ridge High School product who works out of Tacoma Golf Center, is having a fantastic summer. He won the Northwest Open last month at Wine Valley Golf Club, and finished high enough in a Monday qualifier to play in the Web.com Tour’s Albertsons Boise Open.
He also opted to fly 2,500 miles to play in a U.S. Open sectional qualifying tournament in Ohio against PGA Tour golfers — and showed he had the game to play with them.
And, oh yeah, he shot the magical 59 score at the Rosauers Open pro-am in Spokane in July.
“I’ve done quite a bit of things this summer obviously,” said Barron, 30. “There were some big hurdles I got over. I reached some bucket list things … like shooting 59.”
The big hitter off the tee has posted some mind-boggling scores. When he gets on birdie-making binges, he is tough to derail.
Todd Erwin, who is Barron’s swing instructor, said the golfer is on track to make a big move to tour golf in the near future.
“I want him to do nothing different than what he is doing now,” Erwin said. “The only thing he had to overcome was self-doubt … and that, in my opinion, is gone.”
So what is next?
Barron landed a new private sponsor, and will go to the first stage of Web.com Tour qualifying school next month at Southern Dunes Golf Club in Maricopa, Arizona.
He will continue to work at Tacoma Golf Center — with an eye of getting on a tour within the next three years.
“I won’t go on the mini-tours. I am only interested in (tours) I can work my way up through.” Barron said
“I feel like at this point, I am too close to stop. I will push hard and work my tail off the next three years. And if I don’t see something more, or gain status anywhere, I have no problem saying that I tried my best, and it did not work out.”
Where: Meadow Park Golf Course, Tacoma (6,164 yards, par 71).
Format: Stroke play; low 30 professionals (and ties), and low 90 amateurs (and ties) make the cut after two rounds.
2014 champion: Andrew Yun, Lakewood (15-under 198).
Purse: $50,000 ($10,000 to winner).
Tee times: Friday and Saturday: 8-9:30 a.m., and 12:30-2 p.m. Sunday: 8-10:50 a.m. (leaders go off in last group).
Skinny: Last year, it was Yun and PGA Tour professional Michael Putnam (11-under 202) who staged a two-man duel. Yun, a former Bellarmine Prep golfer, pulled away with a final-round 65. Neither will be in the field this weekend because both are playing in the first of the four-tournament Web.com Tour playoffs (Hotel Fitness Championship in Indiana). … So who are the top returners? Locals Derek Barron, the reigning Northwest Open champion, and T.J. Bordeaux, who has played on the Canadian Tour, tied for third (8-under 205) last year, and are playing. … This second Tacoma Open still retains its PGA Tour flavor. Olympia’s Andres Gonzales and Tacoma’s Troy Kelly are in the field for the first time, as is former Web.com Tour winner Mark Wurtz. … Reigning Washington Open Invitational champion Darren Black, of Rainier Golf and Country Club, will tee it up. … Sumner’s Brian Thornton (7-under 206), who placed fourth last year, also returns. … Lacey’s Casey Adams, the reigning Tacoma City Amateur winner, highlights a deep field of top amateurs.