With one shot Haydn Barron made a boyhood dream come true as he booked his place in the field for the 2023 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool Golf Club.
As Poland’s Adrian Meronk rubber-stamped his world-class credentials with a five-stroke win to claim the ISPS HANDA Australian Open at Victoria Golf Club, three golden tickets to The Open were also on the line.
Meronk and runner-up Adam Scott were already exempt due to their finishes on the Race to Dubai and FedEx Cup respectively, paving the way for two West Australians and a charging Spaniard to secure their place in the game’s oldest championship.
With a closing round of one-under 69, Lee earned a return to The Open for the third straight year while Canizares surged into a share of fourth with a Sunday best six-under 64.
The final spot came down to the final groups and it took something out of the ordinary for Barron to grab it.
Three-over on his round following a bogey at 16, Barron birdied the hardest hole on the course all week – the par-4 17th – and followed it with a literal grandstand finish, bringing the enormous galleries around 18 to their feet with a walk-off eagle.
The prospect of an Open berth was a topic of discussion has he entered the final round in a share of third, the reality barely believable for the big bloke known as ‘Baz’.
“I was actually talking to one of my housemates this morning. He said that The Open spot’s up for grabs and I said, ‘Yeah, but I’m trying not to think about it,’” Barron admitted.
“I holed a really good putt on 15 which kind of kept me going and then bogeyed 16 and then just hit one pretty far down there on 17. Kind of smoothed a sand wedge in, made three and then as soon as that putt was track on the last, it was just never missing.
“Obviously surreal to now find out that it’s official and I’m going to The Open. Absolutely stoked.”
Less than 12 months into his professional career, Barron couldn’t be happier that his first major championship will be The Open Championship.
“It’s always been the one I’ve said to everyone that I’d want to win if I had the option,” said Barron.
“I love the history of it. I love playing golf in Scotland and I love playing golf in the UK and through Europe. That’s always been where I’ve wanted to kind of set my craft.
“I won a regional qualifier at Little Aston I think in 2018, but I was unsuccessful in final (qualifying).
“I’ve had a few mates get through to qualifying the last few years and know that I’m probably pretty close.
“That’s kind of inspiring a little bit, but just can’t wait. It hasn’t sunk in yet.”
Moving up 41 spots on the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit to ninth, Barron’s next assignment is the Gippsland Super 6 starting Thursday at Warragul Golf Club.
The Open invitation in July provides an opportunity to play on the DP World Tour that he hopes he can add further tournaments around.
“I might have to sit down with my manager now and have a chat and just see what the plans are,” said Barron.
“Obviously that’s a pretty big trip and who knows, maybe I could play a couple of smaller events or tour events either side of that if I’m lucky enough to get in.”
Min Woo Lee made his Open debut the week after winning the 2021 Scottish Open and finished tied for 21st at St Andrews in July.