Golfer nearly finds ‘unicorn’ at Barbasol, pulls within 2 shots of lead

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Setting a Champions at Keene Trace course record with a 60 at the Barbasol Championship on Saturday was nice, said James Hahn, but it wasn’t frame-worthy.

After all, it wasn’t a 59.

“That’s the unicorn, right?” said Hahn, a 39-year-old professional who was born in South Korea and played his collegiate golf at Cal-Berkeley. “That’s the one everyone is trying to chase. A 60, this scorecard is probably not going up on the wall. A 59, you can tattoo that on my forehead and it would be pretty cool.”

After all, there have been only 12 sub-60 rounds in PGA Tour history. But come on now, Hahn’s 60 still beat the course record of 61 set by Kelly Kraft in the 2019 Barbasol and put Hahn two shots behind leader J.T. Poston, who shot a 66 on Saturday to go with his 65 and 66 the first two rounds. Poston is 19-under par for the tournament.

Luke List, who finished fourth in last week’s John Deere Classic, is second heading into Sunday’s final round. List shot a 65 to go 18 under for the event. Hahn and Joseph Bramlett are tied for third. Bramlett shot a 67 for Saturday’s third round, which was delayed two hours by a morning shower.

“It is magical to come up one short,” Hahn said of just missing out on a 59. “It stings a little bit, but I played well today.”

Actually, he played really, really well. Hahn shot a 69 on Thursday and 70 on Friday before catching fire on Saturday. He eagled the par-5 fifth hole on the way to playing the front nine at 6 under. After birdieing 10, 13 and 14, Hahn eagled the par-5 No. 15, his fourth eagle of the tournament.

“No one was really following us until 12 or 13,” Hahn said. “Then when I chipped in on (15) it got pretty loud.”

Hahn approached 18 with a chance for the elusive 59, only to just miss a 30-foot putt just after his partner, Richard Johnson, made his long putt on the final hole.

The affable Hahn missed much of 2019 after surgery for a triceps tear. After not touching a club for six months, the two-time PGA event winner played with a major medical exemption. He withdrew from the Honda Classic in March because of a rib injury; he failed to make the cut in seven straight tournaments.

So how does he keep Saturday’s momentum going for Sunday?

“I don’t know. It’s the first time I’ve ever been in this situation,” said Hahn, whose 6-year-old daughter Kailee is traveling with him and wife Stephanie. “You just go and have Shake Shack tonight and watch cartoons.”

The cartoons are Kailee’s choice.

“She’s a boss,” Hahn said.

J.T. Poston teed off on No. 12 during the third round of the PGA Barbasol Championship at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville on Saturday.
J.T. Poston teed off on No. 12 during the third round of the PGA Barbasol Championship at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville on Saturday.

Local golfer witnesses history up close

Morehead State senior golfer Joe Muschong was working at the Keene Trace pro shop when a call came that one of the golfers for the Barbasol needed a caddy.

“I guess I drew the straw and lucked into it,” said the Lafayette High School graduate.

And then some, as the All-OVC golfer was on the bag for Hahn’s 60 on Saturday.

“A couple of weeks ago, my caddy actually left me,” Hahn said. “So I was searching around for a caddy. This week I was fortunate enough to have a local guy who knows the golf course. He helped me out a lot this week.”

Actually, Muschong said aside from the practice rounds on Monday and Tuesday, he didn’t need to offer much help to Hahn, a PGA Tour veteran.

“He was talkative, which was nice,” Hahn said. “It relaxes me a little bit.”

“I was a little nervous,” Muschong admitted. “But then he started doing his thing and I just had to keep up.”

What did Hahn do so well Saturday?

“He putted really well today,” Muschong said. “He had tons of opportunities yesterday and they just started falling early and he took over and got in the zone.”

Did Hahn know he was within reach of that 59 on the final hole?

“He knew,” Muschong said. “And he gave it a helluva run.”

French golfer fizzles on final Barbasol hole Saturday

Paul Barjon, a 28-year-old native of France, was sizzling on Saturday, rising to 9-under par for the day before he double bogeyed the 18th hole.

“Little bit of a disappointing finish with the double bogey,” Barjon said. “It didn’t end on the best note, but overall a great day. I gained ground on the leaders and I’ll try and do it again (Sunday).”

The TCU grad, who calls Ft. Worth home, shot a 71 and a 69 the first two days before making a hard charge in the third round, stringing together birdies on six consecutive holes — No. 5 through No. 10.

“It was one of those rounds where it didn’t really matter where I aimed the ball, it was kind of going in on the greens,” Barjon said. “So that’s always fun.”

But the water jumped up and bit Barjon on the 18th as his second shot sailed into the drink.

“I think that’s a tough pin placement today,” he said. “Not an easy hole to par to begin with and when you hit in the water that makes it a little tougher.”

Born in Bordeaux, France, Barjon grew up in New Caledonia before immigrating to the states. He turned pro in 2016 and has secured a PGA Tour card for next year. Barjon won the Huntsville Championship on the Korn Ferry Tour back in May, winning on the third hole of a sudden death playoff.

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