A number popped into the mind of Puyallup golfer Derek Barron as he entered the final round of PGA Tour Qualifying School in California.
“Thinking 65,” he said.
A 66 would have worked, too.
As it turned out Friday, the Emerald Ridge High graduate made a valiant effort with a 4-under-par 68 at San Juan Oaks Golf Club – but he fell short of advancing to second stage.
“I had the chances,” Barron said.
Starting on the back nine, he made three birdies in his first five holes.
He bogeyed the 18th hole, but two holes later on a man-size par 5, he ripped a drive, and decided to go for the green in two shots from 250 yards – something he did not do in any of the three previous rounds.
“I was in between 3-wood and hybrid, so I chose the hybrid and absolutely … hit it clean,” Barron said.
He sank the 8-foot putt for eagle, and suddenly he was 4-under on the day with seven holes remaining.
“I was thinking I wanted to shoot 3-under on each side, really,” Barron said. “And if I can sneak another shot in there, great.”
He did not. Then with an 8-iron in his hand on the par-4 eighth, he flared his approach shot right, chipped to 15 feet and missed the par-saving putt.
On the final hole, another par 5, he hit the green from 202 yards with a 6-iron, and two-putted for a final birdie – and 68, his lowest round of the tournament.
What’s next – he is not sure of. He said discussion among swing instructor Todd Erwin and his wife, Meagan, will take place over the next few weeks. Then, he will decide.
“This was a good experience either way,” Barron said. “If I get the chance next year (to go to Q-School), I know now how to think, act and be.”