Players Take: Paul Barjon
Discusses playing in the RBC Canadian Open, talent level in professional golf and more
June 12, 2019
By Adam Stanley, PGATOUR.COM
- Mackenzie Tour player Paul Barjon earned a spot in last week's RBC Canadian Open. (Warren Little/Getty Images)
With his win at the Bayview Place DCBank Open presented by Times Colonist, Paul Barjon earned a spot in the RBC Canadian Open on the PGA TOUR.
And boy, did he make the most of that opportunity.
Barjon, who spent most of his life on the tiny island of New Caledonia – off the east coast of Australia – before moving back to France, where he was born, for high school, finished T-20 at the RBC Canadian Open, his second-career TOUR start.
It was a steady week for Barjon, who fired rounds of 68-70-67-68, and earned his biggest professional check in the process.
Now Barjon heads back out west to Kelowna for this week’s GolfBC Championship and a chance to extend his lead on top of this year’s Order of Merit.
But first, the two-time Mackenzie Tour winner spent a few minutes with PGA TOUR Digital chatting about his week on TOUR and coming from such a small island with a big dream.
I felt some pressure on the first tee on the first day (at Hamilton), but after that it went pretty smoothly. On Friday there were a lot of people, since Jake (Knapp) and I played last. But those two moments, the first tee on the first day and 18 on the second day, were pretty intense. Other than that, there wasn’t much pressure. It was more about trying to have fun and play as well as possible.
I qualified and played in the Valero Texas Open, so that was pretty big and it was cool to play only three hours from where I live now, but I didn’t play as good. There weren't even close to as many people as there were in Hamilton. Hamilton was definitely packed and pretty intense for sure.
I made the most amount of money in my professional career this week too, by far. That’s always nice.
Ninety percent of the courses (on the Mackenzie Tour) I’ve played now at least once or twice. Obviously that helps. It’s been an interesting year. I’ve been played very well in a few tournaments, like two-day or one-day deals. The few four-round tournaments I played, I played OK the first two rounds but, on the weekend, just average. It helped me not playing that well the first part of the year because it made me understand that four rounds make tournaments pretty long.
My college coach always told me, the Masters, for example, it was all about the back nine on Sunday. That’s what matters. It was kind of interesting. The first few days are important, but the events are 72 holes. It’s quite a ride. It’s been huge for me to understand being consistent. Last week, I played pretty well, but I didn’t have a day where I shot 63 or 64. Every day was consistent. Every day was pretty good. It pays off in the end.
It’s hard to tell what’s been going well, but I’ve been playing smart golf and following my gameplan no matter what happens. Last week at the RBC Canadian Open, there was a hole where I couldn’t hit the fairway, and I talked to my coach on Saturday night and said, “I cannot hit the fairway on this hole and it’s only 380 yards. Should I just hit driver in the rough?” He looked at the book and he said to just stick to my plan. It’s a tough hole, so even if I made a bogey, he said, it wasn’t that big a deal. That was kind of funny, because on the last day, I hit the fairway.
At any level you might have a great week and not win. I played pretty well at the Canada Life Open and I finished sixth. I shot 16-under and I was like, ‘man, I think 16-under in the years before would have been pretty close to the winning number.’ But you had a guy like Jake (Knapp) who shot 21, 22-under. It just is what it is. Sometimes you play great and you’re not going to win. At the same time, maybe the next week you’ll play the same golf and you will win.
And that’s kind of what happened. I’ve been learning how to manage my time, too. Like do I get the course and grind all day, or do I do some smaller things and practice for an hour or two and, the next day, play on the course. I just needed to be a little wiser on the course.
Most of the guys you see on the (PGA TOUR) range and when you hit next to them, they’re not overly impressive. Obviously Rory (McIlroy) and Dustin (Johnson), they are pretty impressive. But I hit balls next to Jim Furyk and obviously, he’s one of my favorite players because you see his swing and when he hits balls on the range, it’s pretty solid. But, he’s not very long and he’s just a steady guy. I think a lot of us are trying to chase Rory and Dustin and play just, perfect. But other guys like Furyk or Padraig Harrington, they’re just steady and quiet and, at the end, they’re making a ton of cuts.
All these guys (on the PGA TOUR) are as good as each other. But the short game that week or staying patient, that’ll separate them. There are a few guys though, Brooks (Koepka), Dustin, (Justin Thomas), they’re pretty unbelievable. They pound it. They hit it straight. But the rest of the field, there’s nothing that impressive.
I lived in New Caledonia from age two to 16, and then I went back to France to play for the national team. Right after that, in 2012, I went to TCU to play college golf.
I always loved golf, but it’s hard when you grow up on a small island, because you think you’re pretty good, but it’s hard to judge. We’d go to Australia and I’d have Cameron Smith (PGA TOUR winner) absolutely beating the crap out of us. He’d be winning everything. So this kid was pretty good. Obviously he’s good. It was hard to place yourself though. I’m OK, but then I went to France and it was a different level, then you go to the U.S. and it was an even different level again. I played OK in college and won a few tournaments, but I didn’t have a stellar college career.
We had Nick Raffaele, who used to be a Callaway rep, become our assistant coach at TCU. He was my mentor on what I needed to do to get to the PGA TOUR. He advised me to play Q-School for Canada when I was in school still, which was great. Right after school I went to the Mackenzie Tour. He was like, ‘give it all in your senior year and then you’ll have a good idea.’ He asked if I could be an All-American, and I didn’t even know. The stats showed that I was an All-American. He told me that there were some guys who didn’t do anything in college and played pretty well on the PGA TOUR, but there was a pretty good indication in college you’d be pretty successful. My junior year, I was like, “OK let’s give this a shot.’ I didn’t know if I was going to play professionally for three years or 20 years, but I wanted to do my best. That was fun, because I won two tournaments in my senior year and finished one shot back at the Big-12 Championship. That gave me motivation because it showed me I had a little something.