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Sympatico Column: Chris Baryla's Comeback Complete

I spoke with Vernon, B.C.’s Chris Baryla a week ago about his comeback from injury and playing his way onto the PGA Tour. The interview  followed a terribly uninformative conference call where only three of my peers actually asked questions. Doesn’t leave me with a lot of faith in Canada’s sports media. For what it is worth, I think Baryla has a reallly legitmate shot at making a career on the PGA Tour. He’s long and good with the putter — a fine combination, and one we haven’t really seen from any Canadians at the Nationwide level in recent years.

Anyway, here’s a taste, while the whole column is online at my “3 Off the Tee,” site on Sympatico:

 

According to Chris Baryla, the highlight of his golf season last year was sitting on a beach with a beer in his hand.

Having hurt his back, having shot a score above 90 during a Nationwide Tour event, Baryla, from Vernon, B.C., wasn’t sure when he’d be able to play again. Fast forward to 2009, a year that saw Baryla make 13 of 14 cuts, finish in the Top 10 at the RBC Canadian Open, and finally gain access to the PGA Tour with a win on the Nationwide Tour.
“I have a real sense of accomplishment and a sense of opportunity,” says Baryla, who finished 19th on the Nationwide Tour’s money list. The Top 25 players gain access to the PGA Tour next year. “It is a big achievement in my career, there’s no doubt about it.”
Though he hasn’t reached out to anyone yet about the transition to the PGA Tour, it is clear Baryla, 27, is grounded enough and has the support structure to help make the move to the big tour. “Stephen and Mike have been great,” he says, referring to top Canadians Weir and Ames, adding that PGA Tour veteran JP Hayes is a friend who plays at the same club in Texas.
“I have a lot of good friends around who can help me,” he says. “I’m sure I’ll lean on them. I’m an information hound.”
It isn’t surprising that Baryla will put in some extra study hours. He has a reputation as a exceptionally clever kid, the type who excelled in school and on the course. His homework for the next month is prepping for the final stage at PGA Tour Qualifying School, which he’ll play in an attempt to improve his standing for next year as well as stay competitive during an otherwise lengthy layoff. As for his game, he says there isn’t any singular element he’ll be working on. Looking at his stats from this year, Baryla appears to have the entire package. He averaged more than 300 yards off the tee, was 5th in putting and 11th in overall scoring on the Nationwide Tour. He might be a little wayward with his driver “ but that’s the only glaring weakness. Baryla wants to take those skills and use them to turn him into a consistent PGA Tour pro, the type who has regular opportunities to win.

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

10 CommentsLeave a comment

  • RT…
    You’d rather credit the RCGA but again you fail to mention the real reason that Baryla is locked in and playing the best golf of his career… Sean Foley.

  • Geoff — never mentioned the RCGA, unless you are reading some other column.

    As for Sean — Chris speaks highly of him. But what’s the saying — “there aren’t great teachers, just great students.”

  • That is one of the most ridiculous comments I have ever read on your blog Robert. How would students know what they have not been taught. So by your logic Aristotle would have learned just as much if he had never met Plato? That comment just shows that your personal vendetta against Sean Foley has you once again taking away from his contribution to all of these players who are having breakout years in their career. As much as we read your blog RT it couldn’t be more obvious. Don’t judge people by your own mediocrity.

  • Jamie, just read your comment. AMEN. RT is completely transparent and ignorant on his position with Sean and it’s nice to see someone speak the truth.

  • Damn guys — talk about taking a column somewhere it wasn’t intended. The piece is about Chris Baryla — who was an exceptional player before he had ever met Sean Foley. Sean seems like a decent guy in the times I’ve dealt with him — but he also has worked with exceptional players (O’Hair, Ames, etc.). Give the student some credit here….

  • I completely understand your point RT that these guys were all exceptional players. Everyone Sean has worked with have been obviously talented. But O’Hair went from the 60’s in the world rankings to currently sitting in 14th spot. In the 16 months O’Hair has worked with Foley he has earned over 6 million. Baryla comes from no mans land to status on the PGA Tour. Sure he hit the ball and holed the putts but that obviously wasn’t working for him before Sean took over as his coach. Just give respect where respect is due. To say he is a decent guy is a slight anyways. As one of his students and to know many of the rest, he is an impressive and inspiring figure and we are all proud he is Canadian. Just a side note I am a young mini-tour player and have worked with Foley for two years. In that time I have seen him teach hundred and hundreds of lessons to kids and aspiring pros like myself and he has never charged one of us. But your right I would say he is just decent.

  • ‘never charged one of us’ – So he only makes his money off the top tier players that he teaches? So at what point does somebody like Baryla have to start paying him? Seems like a strange arrangement.

  • Gosh Jamie — I had no idea that “decent guy” was a slight. Should I have said he walks on water? Would that have been good enough?

    I don’t know Sean well — and to me he’s a good talker, apparently a good coach and a snappy dresser. Seems like a decent sort — especially since he’s been straight-forward with me when not everything I’ve written about him is gushing. So, yep, a decent guy.

    And yes, he has done nicely with O’Hair. But O’Hair had also won $2.5 and carded a win before working with Sean. Not exactly an unknown…

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