ENDICOTT, N.Y. – Doug Barron became the 13th Monday qualifier to win a PGA Tour Champions event, holing two 15-foot birdie putts after a rain delay to beat Fred Couples by two strokes Sunday in the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open.
Making his second senior start after turning 50 last month, Barron closed with a 6-under 66 at at En Joie Golf Club to finish the wire-to-wire victory at 17-under 199. With Couples in the clubhouse after a 63, Barron returned from the rain delay to hole the first 15-footer on the par-4 15th to break a tie for the lead, then doubled the advantage with the second one on the par-3 17th.
“I had fun,” Barron said. “I enjoyed every minute of it. Honestly, when you’re competing and you can bring out your best at the end, that’s cool stuff. That was fun for me. That birdie at 17 was just money to me.”
The 59-year-old Couples was back at En Joie for the first time in 24 years. He won the PGA Tour’s 1991 B.C. Open at the course.
“I got off to a really, really good start hitting the ball,” Couples said. “Yesterday, I kind of butchered the par 5s on the front. Today, I birdied all three of them. So that got the ball rolling and I played very well.”
Barron is the first open qualifier to win since Willie Wood in the 2012 event at En Joie, and the first to win wire-to-wire. After tying for fifth in the Senior British Open in his Champions debut, Barron got into the field Monday with a 66 at The Links at Hiawatha Landing.
“I’ve got a place to play right now,” Barron said. “I’ve got to reset my goals a little bit. It’s not the Emerald Coast Tour anymore.”
He had six birdies in the bogey-free final round.
“I’ve been very fortunate this year,” Barron said. “Even the tournaments, the smaller tournaments I’ve played, I led three of them from start to finish and so I carried that experience today and just said, `You know, I’m playing against younger kids in these other tournaments, I can’t beat them with my mental game, I’ve just got to go out and hit the ball now.“’
Barron was winless on the PGA Tour in 238 starts, playing the defunct B.C. Open seven times at En-Joie. In 2009, three years after losing his PGA Tour card, Barron became the first player to be suspended by the tour for testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance. He was suspended for one year.
Woody Austin was third at 13 under after a 67.
Scott McCarron, the 2017 winner, had a 69 to match Colin Montgomerie (66) at 12 under.
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