Derek Barron, 32, of Tacoma, Wash., made his major-championship debut this week in the 117th U.S. Open Championship at Erin Hills. Barron, who ran his grandfather’s hydraulics company and was a construction foreman before turning professional six years ago, represents the “open” nature of this championship. He advanced through local qualifying at Wine Valley Golf Club in Walla Walla, Wash., and shot 7-under 135 on his home course, Tacoma Country & Golf Club in Lakewood, Wash., to earn sectional qualifying medalist honors and a place among the world’s greatest players. A rookie on the Mackenzie Tour – PGA Tour Canada, Barron agreed to write a daily diary about his U.S. Open experience. Here is his fifth and final installment after shooting 70-83 to miss the cut:
I’m honestly bummed. I really thought after yesterday’s great round, I could be around for the weekend. When I got to the 10th tee this morning for our 8:57 a.m. starting time, I didn’t feel nervy or tight. I would have loved to have the same routine as Thursday, but when we arrived on property, the physio trailer wasn’t open. That’s not an excuse for my performance. You just like to have a good routine.
I just couldn’t make anything happen on Friday. It’s not like I played poorly. But at the U.S. Open, mistakes will be exposed. I wouldn’t say I got ahead of myself. I didn’t think about anything but each shot.
But when you start out with five consecutive bogeys, it’s tough to recover. I never pressed. It’s just disappointing coming off my great round on Thursday. I thought I had a really good bead on everything. It was a little windier on Friday and the pins were a bit more challenging. I just kept hitting the ball in the wrong spot. Like on 10, I hit my drive a little right, but my ball was on a spine. I hit a great recovery shot down near the green, but when I tried to use the slope in the back of the green, I didn’t hit the pitch hard enough. Then on 11, the wind was coming out of the right and I thought I striped it. The wind carried it a bit too far into the rough and then I caught a flier and made a bogey. I missed a 3½-footer for par on 12. I made a poor third shot on the par-5 14th. It just snowballed.
All my mistakes hurt me today. With as good as everything went on Thursday, it was completely the opposite on Friday. And I felt like 2 or 3 under was doable. But it’s very difficult to get into a good flow when you start out like that.
The par 5s killed me this week. I usually live off them. This week I didn’t make a single birdie. That’s rough for me for as well as I usually drive it.
But I learned a ton about my golf game these last five days. I know I can play with the best in the world. I proved that on Thursday. Every one of those superstars has gone through what I endured today. Not making the cut doesn’t make me feel different about my chances to succeed.
I know I am 32 and a bit older for a guy just starting to get into professional tour golf. But I don’t feel that old. I still can get it out there plenty far. I hit the ball good enough. Today was all mental. I didn’t get mad. I accepted the fact that I was going to make bogeys and hope I could turn it around at some point. I just adjusted too late to make anything happen.
From the moment I stepped on the grounds on Monday, I realized this was happening. I was fulfilling a dream. I got here, which is challenging in itself. Only 21 guys made it through local and sectional qualifying out of some 9,000 competitors.
I know I will get this chance again. I hope it is next year at Shinnecock Hills. I know I will be better prepared for the challenge. This was my first-ever event going against the game’s best players. When I return to the Mackenzie Tour in two weeks in Winnipeg, everything is going to seem easy. I have a good takeaway of things I need to work on to get my game to hold up to these kinds of conditions for four days.
Right now, I just need a break. I’ve been playing for seven straight weeks now. I’m a little mentally and physically exhausted. We might stick around and come out and watch the golf this weekend. I have to talk to my wife, Madi, about that. Tonight we might just go to a movie and relax. Maybe we’ll catch a flight home tomorrow.
No matter what we decide, I am so proud of my accomplishments. I didn’t reach my ultimate goal, but just being here was a major step for my budding career. The support has been fantastic.
What a week!