Derek Bayley knew exactly where he stood on the leaderboard and what was at stake: The Reno Open championship, a $15,000 first-place check and an exemption into the PGA Tour’s Barracuda Championship.
He trailed by one point on the 17th tee in the modified Stableford scoring system (two points for a birdie, five for an eagle, zero for a par, minus-1 for a bogey, minus-3 for a double bogey).
Bayley came up clutch with birdies on 17 and 18 Thursday at Toiyabe Golf Club in Washoe Valley, about 25 miles south of Reno, to take the title by two points and land a spot in the PGA tournament July 27-Aug. 2 in nearby Truckee, California.
“It was cool,” said Bayley, a Washington State University and Lakeland High product. “I was nervous for sure (standing over an eight-foot birdie putt on 18), but that’s why we do this. I was home for six weeks and for five of those I was playing casually instead of grinding like I was when I was in Arizona (on the Outlaw Tour).
“The last week I got into tourney mode and a couple of times I was like, ‘This 10-foot putt is to win the Reno Open,’ so I kind of had a chuckle about that walking onto the green.”
Bayley finished with 48 points after rounds of 65-65-63. He had 22 birdies, one eagle and one bogey in 54 holes. Bryan Martin, of Thousand Oaks, California, made seven birdies on the back nine to close with 46 points.
It was Bayley’s first win as a pro, but he twice captured the Rosauers Open as an amateur. Each time, he declined the $11,000 first-place check and accepted $750 in merchandise to maintain his amateur status.
Bayley birdied the par-3 17th despite “chunking” his tee shot. He said his 10-yard chip “took one bounce, spins and goes right in the hole.” He called the 479-yard 18th the toughest hole on the course.
Bayley will play in the first three Dakotas Tour events in July, then attempt to Monday qualify for a Korn Ferry tournament in Missouri. He planned on entering the Lilac City Invitational at the Fairways but that changed after earning a spot in the Barracuda Championship on the same dates.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.