Baryla has the right stuff
By MIKE ULMER -- Toronto Sun
ANCASTER -- This is important. If you've ever witnessed an interview between a subject and a pack of media, you will recognize the inevitable, inexorable pause that happens between the moment all the cameras are running and the first question is proffered.
It was during just such a moment that a wise guy -- okay, it was me -- unable to bear the sight of a Canadian golfer named Chris Baryla wait for the question, finally chimed in: "What's the capital of North Dakota?"
"North Dakota has a capital?" Baryla asked.
Chris Baryla is from Vernon, B.C. He is just 20 years old, a scholarship golfer at the University of Texas El Paso who walked his way on to the U.S. Open via the qualifying pool. That's not bad.
He was enjoying a dandy Canadian Open before things went south yesterday. A two-under par 68 on the second day put him only four behind leader Charles Howell III. Yesterday, however, Baryla spun out of control. The day ended with him making a four-foot putt that gave him an untidy, unsatisfying 77.
When that final putt fell, Baryla grinned at the gallery and pushed his arms into the air in mock homage to himself.
"Didn't drive, putt or chip well," he said later. "That usually results in a big score."
The education of Chris Baryla promises to be a fascinating viewing. He has spectacular talent. He was the first Canuck amateur in 20 years to make the cut at the Canadian Open. On his second hole of the tournament, he found himself looking down at his ball in a medical tent.
It had rolled under an equipment tray. Unperturbed, Baryla had the cart moved, chipped out to within eight feet of the pin and made birdie.
He just seems so Canadian.
He admits his concentration sometimes wanders while he is on the course. He likes to fish and fry what he eats. He smiles a lot and, amongst all those flashing teeth, there is no sense of smug.
A golf tournament is bound to be the biggest collection of Republicans outside Washington. They are, with the lovely exception of Howell, on the taciturn side. Any sport in which someone who wasn't breast fed, watching on television can spot a rule violation, call it in and have Paul Azinger penalized, has its pants on just a little too tight.
And then there is Baryla, who speaks of being 20 years old and benefitting from the experience of stinking at a big tournament as something appropriate for a kid his age.
"You think, on the one hand, just because you're 20 you still have a lot of time to get better, but the important thing is to get the experience," he said. "Experience is only going to make you better."
Here is just one of the areas in which Baryla is different. Twenty year olds don't talk about being 20 with the detached air of someone watching themselves on video. Twenty year olds don't have perspective ... they're 20.
When a Lancaster Bomber flew over the course many of the players looked stonily ahead. Baryla stopped what he was doing and took it in.
At the U.S. Open, Baryla interrupted his run to nuzzle with his girlfriend between shots. Golfers usually wait until after to get a little lovin'.
Baryla's dad is a financial planner who made good. He doesn't work much anymore and neither does Chris' mom.
The young man has his priorities right.
"I'm majoring in financial management but that's not what I see myself doing all my life. I don't think any 20 year old does."
He wants to be a golf pro, not because he has felt some sacred calling but for the very practical reason that "you never have to work a day in your life."
He talked about all manner of things, Chris Baryla did.
Pretty sharp kid, too.
When asked what he daydreamed about, he turned the question back with a nice volley. "What do you daydream about?"
"That probably works for you."
And then he said it.
Baryla, who was being prodded on all matters, who was playing the Canadian Open at 20, who should have been at a keg party instead of waving to the gallery, said this word: