Mackenzie Tour–PGA Tour Canada

Mackenzie Tour–PGA Tour Canada

There were two convenient ways to measure Paul Barjon’s performance in the 2019 Mackenzie Tour–PGA Tour Canada. One was that he shot the first 28 rounds — seven tournaments — all under par. The other way — he won the tour’s Player of the Year and Order of Merit awards.

And what made the tour crackle even more was the narrowness of Barjon’s success. He played in all 12 events and won two of them, topping the Order of Merit with C$127,336, but led that money list by only C$2,746. That was because Canadian native son Taylor Pendrith — age 28, big (6-foot-2, 205 pounds) and big-hitting, and a graduate of Kent State University in Ohio — also won two tournaments and totaled C$124,590.

“Finishing No. 1 was the target at the beginning of the year,” Barjon said. “Whether I could do it or not was definitely a question mark. You always want to be the first guy, but it’s hard to put that into your mind that you can do it.”

Barjon, 27, was probably the most-traveled player on the tour. He is native of New Caledonia, a Southwest Pacific island, a graduate of Texas Christian University and lives in Fort Worth, Texas. Barjon won the Bayview Place DCBank Open in June, the second tournament on the schedule. He finished at 19 under and won by a shot. Then in mid-July, in a kind of preview of the end of the season, he won the Osprey Valley Open at 25 under. The last round turned into something of a match play finale against Pendrith. Barjon ended up winning by three, but came away impressed. “This guy is scary,” he said. “He can make a lot of birdies.”

A few weeks later, Pendrith showed how scary he could be. He won the 1932byBateman Open by three, after closing with a 62. And three weeks later he demolished the Mackenzie Investments Open, shooting 62-62 in the middle rounds in a 28-under 260 to win by a tour-record margin of eight. He said after the Mackenzie win, “It was definitely the best week of tournament golf I have ever played.” Pendrith, who won the Mackenzie Canadian Player of the Year award for the second time in four years, continued, “I honestly don’t remember playing from the rough on the weekend…” Barjon, with his fully exempt status as No. 1, leads the top five of the money list onto the 2020 Korn Ferry Tour. With him are the condition ally exempt Pendrith and Americans Jake Knapp, Lorens Chan and Patrick Fishburn. The others: No. 3, Jake Knapp, 25, who won C$120,925, in the season-opening Canada Life Open, found himself trailing by five shots going into the final round.

He texted his old coach: What does a guy have to do to shoot eight under? Answer: “Go shoot four under on the front and shoot four under on the back.” So Knapp did, shot 64, and won by two strokes. He also won the GolfBC Championship two weeks later and had three other top-10 finishes. No. 4, Lorens Chan, 25, won C$116,541. He was leading by one going into the final round of the HFX Pro-Am and finally solved Oakfield Golf and Country Club’s par-five No. 1. “I was struggling on that hole this week,” he said, “and I was just trying to two-putt.” From 40 feet. And he holed the putt for an eagle and went on to win. He had seven other top-10s.

“Nothing better than making a long putt to start the day,” Chan said. No. 5, Patrick Fishburn, C$81,140. Fishburn, 27, wanted to shoot 63 in. the final round of the season-ending Canada Life Championship “Because I shot 66, 65, and 64, so I wanted to keep it going.” But he didn’t. He shot another 64 instead, and scored his first win by three. Fishburn had three other top-10s. Other first-timer tales: Scariest Win: The final round of the Windsor Championship opened with 26 players within two shots of the lead, and there were still 12 when Dawson Armstrong reached No. 16. Finally, Will Register, in the last group, needed a birdie at the par-four 18th to catch him, and almost made it — twice.

Register’s 65-yard third hit two inches from the hole, bounced forward, then burned the hole trickling back. Armstrong won with 66–284, 20 under. Six tied for second, a shot behind. Smart Strategy: Derek Barron, on winning the Players Cup at windy Southwood: “I told myself this morning when I felt the wind that … It didn’t matter if it was 20, 35, 50 or eight feet. I’d take my chances with the putter.”

The Right Touch: Hayden Buckley, on taking the ATB Financial Classic: “Winning with a par in the playoff — it didn’t feel like I won it. But it was good enough.” The Magic Word: After starting the season 0-for-3 on cuts, and after long rain delays in the Lethbridge Paradise Canyon Open, an anxious Alex Chiarella restrained himself on the final green and cautiously two-putted for a par, and scored his first win by a stroke. “Deep breathing, positive thoughts,”Chiarella said. “Patience — that was the one word to myself this week.”


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