Aussie Barron caps big year with a European tour card

Hamish Blair/AAP PHOTOS

Rising Australian golfer Haydn Barron has enjoyed another breakthrough near the end of a year when he played his first major, earning his European tour card at its uber-competitive qualifying school in Spain.

Perth's Barron was one of nine Aussies who had battled through to the final third-stage, six-round stage of the school in Tarragona, Spain, but he was the only one among 156 players from around the globe to earn one of the precious - and potentially lucrative - cards the DP World Tour ended up handing out to the top 33.

His 20-under par total after rounds of 67, 72, 70, 64, 66 and 69 were enough to enable the 27-year-old West Australian to finish joint-ninth in the standings on Wednesday, seven shots behind the qualifying school winner, German Freddy Schott, who finished 27 under.

It marks the conclusion of a hugely successful 12 months for Barron, who in April  completed his first full season on the PGA Tour of Australasia by winning the Rookie of the Year award.

The Western Australian Golf Club member had finished 12th on the Order of Merit, largely thanks to his remarkable finish at the Australian Open in December at Victoria Golf Club, where he holed out from a bunker for eagle at the 72nd hole to push him into a tie for fourth.

That top-five finish booked him a place in his maiden major, the British Open Championship, at Royal Liverpool in July, a lifetime's ambition achieved even though he failed to make the cut at Hoylake.

Barron, who has come through GolfWA's High Performance Program, had turned pro at the end of 2019, and is now seemingly making up for lost time after the COVID-19 pandemic didn't allow him to finally complete a rookie year on tour until this year.

He had arrived in Spain in good form after finishing runner-up spot at the WA PGA Championship in October, but faced a brutal task to beat a host of rising - and former - stars all battling for a card.

Among other successful players were England's Tom Lewis, who carded three stunning final rounds of 61, 67 and 65 to qualify sixth overall and rejuvenate his once-promising career as a two-time European tour winner.

South Africa's five-time winner Darren Fichardt made it back on tour at the age of 48, as did four-time victor, Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat.