Doug Barron shot a 2-over 74 in the first round of the second stage of qualifying school Tuesday, his first round on the PGA Tour since his ban for violating the tour’s anti-doping policy was lifted.
“It felt great out there, the juices were flowing this morning,” Barron said. “The first couple of holes felt like the final round of a PGA Tour event. I felt totally in control of my body. Which is a good thing.”
Barron was the first player suspended under the drug policy, missing part of 2009 and most of 2010. The one-year suspension was lifted in September, with Barron granted a therapeutic use exemption for low testosterone. His lawsuit against the PGA Tour has been settled.
The 41-year-old Barron had two birdies, two bogeys and a double-bogey six on the par-4 16th hole at the Redstone Members Course, former site of the Shell Houston Open.
He was eight shots behind the early leaders, with the top 20 or so golfers advancing to the Q-School finals in December.
Starting on the 10th hole on a sunny and cool opening round, Barron made three straight pars before bogeying the par-3 12th hole. He rebounded with a birdie on the par-4 13th.
A double bogey on the 16th hole dropped him to 2 over and he had a bogey on the par-4 third hole. He finished with a 15-foot birdie putt on the par-4 17th.
“My target score was 70 today, so I was four strokes over that, but I still feel like my game is in good shape,” Barron said. “I really feel like I’m going to make it past second stage and get my playing card for 2011. Then I will be nervous on the first tee next year.”
Former U.S. Amateur runner-up James Driscoll, who missed the cut in 13 of 26 events this year, held the early lead with a 6-under 66. He lost his PGA Tour card this year despite making $500,000 and finishing 153rd on the PGA Tour money list.
Australian Matthew Goggin was alone in second among early finishers at 69. Longtime Houston resident Craig Kanada was third with a 70.