ENDICOTT, N.Y. – All three times I’ve covered the event, the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open has had a fantastic finish.
From Scott McCarron’s unbelievable shot on 18 over the trees on to the green in 2017, to Bart Bryant’s long birdie on the same hole to win it last year, there’s been no shortage of drama with this tournament.
Now this year, with the most talented field in tournament history, the Dick’s Open came down to a battle between one of golf’s most legendary players and a man who just qualified for the event on Monday.
Going into Sunday, Fred Couples was barely a factor as far as the leader board goes.
However, Freddy had himself a round yesterday.
On 10 here, a birdie attempt and gets it to drop in.
Couples now at 12-under.
Now to hole 12.
After giving himself a shot to chip in for eagle, Couples with a short birdie putt.
Kisses it off the right edge of the cup and it’s in. Now up to 13-under.
On to 18, Couples with a share of the lead at 15-under and is facing a birdie putt for the outright lead.
Crowd is behind him 100%, but he pushes it left.
Couples finishes at 15-under, and for the moment, is still a co-leader.
Earlier in the week, he mentioned using this tournament to get his game right again, and he says that this round exceeded his expectations.
“Yeah, by far. I mean, I’m 15-under and I rarely play golf anymore. I still know how to play, you know, if I get on a roll. I mean, it’s not like shooting 9-under. But, you know, I stood on the 10th tee yesterday. I was 2-under and I said you know, I got to do better than this. Sometimes it goes the other way, and I started making a few birdies, and I holed the bunker shot on 16 for eagle. And I shot 4-under, which put me at 6-under, which at least felt like I’m competing. And then today was just a great round,” he said.
The man Couples was trying to catch Sunday was Doug Barron.
Barron qualified for the tournament on Monday at Hiawatha and put himself in a great place with two excellent rounds heading into Sunday.
On 12, he sinks a birdie putt to move to 15-under, and he’d sit there for quite some time.
Around 4, a severe storm rolled over En-Joie, bringing everything to a screeching halt.
After about two hours, players got back out to warm up, using the 1st and 10th tees as a makeshift driving range.
Once play resumed, Barron birdied 15 to go to 16-under, and then here on 17, he put the tournament away.
He rolls that one perfectly, and you can see the relief there.
Barron now at 17-under, a two stroke lead with one hole to go, and the crowd let him hear the love as he made his way up the 18th fairway.
He gave himself a chance to birdie 18 as well.
Good look, coming back, but won’t fall.
However, just a simple tap in and it was time to celebrate.
Doug Barron wins the 2019 Dick’s Sporting Goods Open, becoming just the 13th Monday qualifier to win a tournament in PGA Tour Champions history.
Afterwards, Barron spoke about having to compete right to the very end.
“I putted good for the week. I’m just saying, if I had rolled all my 15-footers, it could’ve been a really fun week. But, god just wanted me to have a little stress in my life on the back nine. So, it was coo. I had fun. I mean, 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 on 17 was money,” Barron says.
It literally was money as Barron got over $300,000 and a sweet trophy for conquering the field.
With the win, Barron’s life is about to change drastically.
He is now exempt for many different events, including majors on the PGA Tour Champions.