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May 13, 2024

Memphian Doug Barron rules Regions Tradition

By Gregg Dewalt, Alabama Golf News Editor
Doug Barron

Stewart Cink surges late but comes up short

HOOVER – Somebody finally dethroned Steve Stricker at the PGA Tour Champions Regions Tradition, but it was Doug Barron, someone who wasn’t on anyone’s radar before the tournament began Thursday.

Doug Barron, who hadn’t won a Champions event since 2021, held off hard-charging Steven Alker, Stewart Cink, Ernie Els and Stricker to claim his first major title on the senior circuit. He did it by fashioning a 4-under 68 in the final round, good enough to edge Alker (63) by two shots and Cink (66), Els (71) and Stricker (69) by three shots.

Stricker was bidding for a third consecutive Regions Traditions title at Greystone Golf and Country Club and he got close, but the steady-playing Barron came through down the stretch. The 54-year-old Barron, who lives in Memphis, called it a dream finish to win after being paired in the final group alongside Els and Padraig Harrington.

“I’m gonna tell you, it was an emotional day because I didn’t have my best stuff,” he said. “Today was just a dream come true to beat all these great players. I mean, to even get the pairing. They’re world-class players, but they’re even better people. That’s what I would tell you, too.”

After shooting 65-72-66 in the first three rounds, Barron carried a one-shot lead into Sunday’s final round. He said he didn’t know what to expect, but assumed somebody would go low. He was correct, as Alker, the Schwab Cup points leader, and Cink, who toggles back and forth between the PGA Tour and Champions Tour, both pressured Barron to play flawlessly.

“I figured someone would shoot nine under and Stephen Alker of course did it, as he usually does, but I played. I made pars, and I stroked it good,” Barron said.

Doug Barron: ‘I felt like I could make an eight -footer again’

Barron’s winning score was 17-under 271.

Alker, who shot 69-71-70 before going low Sunday, simply was too far back to catch Barron.

“I obviously was hoping for a bit of wind, for a little bit of weather just to slow the leaders down,” Alker said. “But I woke up at 7 this morning and I hopped out of bed and I said, “Just go shoot 10 under.” And I came up one short. I thought if I could get to 10 under today, and the leaders had to do a little something. But that was kind of a number of a mine. “It was a good day. Lots of birdies; it’s good.”

Cink, the Alabama native playing his first competitive round in his home state since 1996, shot 31 on the front side to get within two shots of Barron, who played a bogey-free final round. But he stalled on the back nine with only one birdie to finish three shots off the pace.

Barron said a recent putting lesson was the key to his win.

“I got one of the best putting lessons from my coach back home, Jonathan Fly, last week, and I really got my putter going. I felt like I could make an eight -footer again and it was huge,” he said. “It was a great day and I hit a lot of good shots coming down the stretch. I had my putter, and thought if I just hit it 30, 40 feet I could win it.”

Barron admitted it was difficult to close out the tournament.

“It’s just an emotional day,” he said. “The last four holes were really hard for me. I had to leave the cart. I walked the front and I rode a few holes on the back. I just decided to walk. It was a little great walk. I needed some energy. When I came out here, I dreamed of winning majors because I was never a factor in major on the PGA Tour. So, it is a dream come true.”

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Featured image courtesy of the PGA Tour Champions

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