PGA Championship

Valhalla Golf Club

Regions Tradition

Doug Barron's wild journey continues with him winning his first Champions' major

May 12, 2024

Doug Barron celebrates after sinking his final putt to win the Regions Tradition at Greystone Golf and Country Club in Birmingham, Ala.

Alex Slitz

The journey for this journeyman has seldom been mundane, Doug Barron having run a gamut from lowlights to highlights in a meandering career that reached its apex on Sunday.

Barron, 54, coming off a year in which he underwent surgery on both elbows, went head-to-head with two World Golf Hall of Famers, Ernie Els and Padraig Harrington, and a dominant PGA Tour Champions star Steve Stricker, and outplayed all of them to win the Regions Tradition, the first senior major championship of the year.

“It was an emotional day because I didn’t have my best stuff,” he said. “Between Stricker, Padraig and Ernie, I didn’t know what to expect. I figured someone would shoot nine-under and Steven Alker, of course, did it as he usually does. I made pars and was stroking it good. I really got my putter going, and I felt like I could make an eight-footer again and it was huge. Today was just a dream come true to beat all these great players.”

Barron shot a four-under 68 at Greystone Golf and Country Club in Birmingham, Ala., and finished 72 holes in 17-under-par 271, two ahead of Alker, three clear of Stricker and Els, and seven ahead of Harrington.

The victory was his third on the PGA Tour Champions, for which he earned $390,000. He has found a second, more profitable and comfortable, career on what often has been called the second-chance tour. He never won on the PGA Tour, in 238 career starts. The lowest of lowlights came in 2009, when he became the first player suspended for a year by the PGA Tour under its anti-doping policy when he failed a drug test at the St. Jude Classic.

Barron sued the PGA Tour and his suspension was lifted in the fall of 2010 when the suit was settled and he was granted a therapeutic use exemption for the use of testosterone.

Now, he is a three-time winner on the senior tour and has earned $4,281,978, or $1.4 million more than he earned on the PGA Tour.

He has had a strong run in 2024 after playing only seven events the year before when he underwent the elbow surgeries. Two weeks before this victory, he tied for second in the Mitsubishi Electric Classic.

“I do play in a lot pain in my elbow every day,” he said, “but it’s manageable. Hopefully one day I’m going to wake up and the pain is going to go away. I’m able to lift and so certain things. I irritated it this week doing a couple of exercises, so I know not to do those right now. But it’s calmed back down again.”

Barron closed with a bogey-free round that included four birdies while playing alongside Harrington and Els. He outplayed Els by three and Harrington by six. On the eve of the final round, he said a victory would be a “life-changer,” before adding that “it’s not life or death.”

But it is a career-enhancer, a major championship on a resume that steadily is improving with age.