Baryla learns valuable Q-school lesson

IAN HUTCHINSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:50 AM ET

An impressive 61 can magically inflate by a dozen in an important tournament and while you may reach for a mystical potion as the cure to what ails you, the real remedy is something as mortal as perspective.

"I think that's one of my strengths is being fairly levelheaded about stuff, not getting too excited about the ups and not taking the downs too hard," said Chris Baryla of Vernon, B.C., who led all Canadians at PGA Tour qualifying school, where he tied for 11th after a six-round grind that began with a 72.

Baryla's theory was put to the test when he shot a second- round 61 to take the overall lead at Orange County National near Orlando, a perch that, at that point in the tournament, only means the thump is harder if you tumble.

"At that point, you kind of wish it was a four-round tournament and the finish line would hurry up," he said.

"The thing is that that tournament is six rounds and a 61 is nice and in the second round, to be leading is fantastic, but it's such a long week and so much golf has to be played, that it doesn't quite give you that boost that it would in a four-round tournament," he added.

Baryla went 73-71-74 and was tied for 36th going into the final round, a precarious situation when it's the top 20 and ties who receive their tour cards. A chat with coach Sean Foley, who was back from the Chevron World Challenge, where he was working with his celebrated client Tiger Woods, helped matters.

"It's nice to have someone like that who is that good of a friend and then, obviously, is definitely very competent in the work aspect of it. From both angles of it, it's nice to have him around," said Baryla.

"Luckily, it was on the (Crooked Cat) course that I much prefer of the two. My length gives me a pretty good advantage on that golf course, so we were confident in that and we just kind of discussed the mindset," said Baryla, who posted a 66 and says it never hurts to test perspective.

"That's the point of (Q-school)," he said. "That's why they have it the way they set it up, so that it really does test your ability to perform and to balance life and emotion over that period of time."

Baryla will be a little more balanced by the time he hits the tour after marrying Amelie in Colorado on Dec. 30. Then, he will start his season at the Sony Open in Hawaii, his first of three straight events.

Baryla already had 16 events to play in 2011 after being granted a medical exemption for hip surgery after just seven events in 2010. After originally thinking it was a back problem, Baryla reports the hip is fine.

"I was missing a lot with pain and not being able to practise or prepare at all and everyone I was talking to was telling me that there was a problem with my back and there was really nothing that can be done -- sometimes, it's going to be good and sometimes, it's going to be bad," said Baryla.

"We started looking into it and eventually, they discovered that it was in my hip, that it was bone on bone on my left hip," he added. "It was actually kind of a relief that it was going to be repairable as opposed to just kind of an indefinite type thing."

So, physically and mentally, Baryla seems prepared as he joins five other Canadians, including Matt McQuillan of Kingston, who tied for 16th at Q-school, on tour.

"Canadian golf's taken criticism on where the next (tour player) is coming from, but I've said for years that there's a bunch of players out there --some you've heard of, some you haven't -- who, at any given time, can jump up to the next level," he said. "Matt, specifically, is a good example of that."


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