Sports

Puyallup golfer one of four golfers to advance through U.S. Open local qualifying in Walla Walla

When you hold the course record at a U.S. Open local qualifying, it creates huge expectations.

But even Puyallup’s Derek Barron knows “golf is a day-to-day thing.”

Barron, the long-hitting professional out of Tacoma Firs, faced Wine Valley Golf Club’s 7,464-yard, par-72 layout Tuesday at the U.S. Open local qualifying tournament in Walla Walla under completely different scoring conditions then when he set the course record of 11-under-par 61 at a pro-am in the summer of 2013.

With few birdie opportunities, Barron found one late at the 17th hole to shoot even-par 72, and share medalist honors with Gonzaga University golfer Sean Walsh and Rainier Golf and Country Club pro Darren Black to advance to U.S. Open sectionals.

If Barron can advance through sectionals, he would make the U.S. Open, which is being held this year at Chambers Bay in University Place, for the first time.

“I want to be there more than anything,” said Barron, an Emerald Ridge High School graduate who played briefly at Green River Community College. “I want to prove to myself I am good enough to play there.

“If I happen to get to Chambers Bay, it is a version of this course (Wine Valley) — long and punishing around the greens.”

Barron struggled on the back-nine par-3 holes at No. 14 and No. 16.

At the 14th hole, he pulled a 9-iron tee shot long and made bogey.

Two holes later, he did the same thing, making a final bogey and suddenly sitting over-par in the qualifier for the first time.

But at the 17th hole, Barron’s pitching wedge-approach shot at the par 4 hit the flagstick, and nestled inches away from the cup for a tap-in birdie.

For the day, Barron hit 16 greens in regulation — but could not cash in on a few short birdie putts.

“It was not an off day,” Barron said. “It was just a lower-end day.

“The course played super long. There were two par 4s that were over 510 yards — and one played into the wind. There were two par 3s playing at 225 yards. There just weren’t a ton of birdies to make out there.”

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