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Barron staggers in but wins Lilac by four strokes

Derek Barron of Tacoma struggled down the stretch but still won the Lilac Invitational golf tournament by four strokes. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
Derek Barron of Tacoma struggled down the stretch but still won the Lilac Invitational golf tournament by four strokes. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
Jim Meehan

Derek Barron tapped in for bogey, his third over the last four holes, and made an arm motion like he was going to toss his ball into the hazard guarding the 18th green at the Fairways.

The Tacoma native wasn’t thrilled with his finishing stretch but it hardly mattered. Barron built a comfortable lead through 14 holes and cruised to the Lilac City Invitational title Sunday by four strokes over Kevin PomArleau and Shane Prante.

Barron, who started the day with a three-shot edge, closed with an even-par 72 for a four-round total of 19-under 269. He earned $8,000.

PomArleau (73) and Prante (71) had chances to narrow the gap but both struggled on the back nine. They weren’t alone. Scores soared due to blustery conditions and tough pin locations. Four of the 23 pros shot 71s and nobody was in the 60s.

“That was a pretty crazy finish for me,” Barron said. “I wasn’t really feeling too nervy but the wind is hard to judge and with these pins, it’s just a sick combination.”

Barron birdied 2, 3, 4 and 5, but couldn’t pull away from PomArleau, who nearly double-eagled the par 5 third. Barron four-putted for double bogey on No. 7 – playing partners PomArleau and defending champion Brian Miller both three-putted – but he stuck his approach to three feet on No. 9. Barron drained the speedy putt to cap a 3-under front nine.

Barron avoided a big number on the 172-yard 13th after hitting his tee shot into the pond. He chipped from the drop zone to four feet and made the putt for bogey. He followed with a two-putt birdie on the par-5 14th to boost his lead to five over PomArleau.

“That shot from the drop zone was probably the best shot I hit all day,” the 31-year-old said. “The difference today was even with the mistakes I had, I lipped out three putts on the last four holes and the first three days those were going in.”

Barron’s busy summer schedule continues this week in Waterloo, Iowa, followed by the Colorado Open. He will also attempt to qualify for a few Web.com Tour events.

“I’ve never been this busy with golf but it’s fun,” said Barron, who finished second at last year’s Rosauers Open Invitational. “It’s what I wanted to do. It feels good to get the opportunity to try to chase it down.”

PomArleau had numerous opportunities to put pressure on Barron but missed birdie putts ranging from three to nine feet on 5, 6, 8 and 10, as well as a few par putts of similar length.

“The wind was moving them around, the greens were hard, the pins were tough,” PomArleau said. “They just didn’t go in, maybe next time they will.”

PomArleau, who teaches in the Palm Springs/La Quinta area, estimated he’d played just 10 rounds since finishing tied for sixth in last year’s Lilac.

“I know how to play,” he said. “Once you figure it out it’s like riding a bike. The putter is a little dicey just because I don’t play much.”

Prante, playing one group ahead, shot 3-under 33 on the front. He trailed by three after a birdie on No. 10 but that was the end of his charge. Prante and PomArleau each made $3,000.

Miller rallied on the back nine with two eagles to finish fourth at 12-under 276. Manito assistant Corey Prugh (71-277) placed fifth.

Seattle’s Kevin Burnett was low amateur (296). Braden McKay, of Rossland, B.C., won the championship flight (297).

The tournament raised $11,000 for Shriners Hospitals For Children – Spokane.

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