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30 Birdies?

Stephen Stallings signs an autograph for a young fan after his practice round at the Barbasol Championship Wednesday. (Pam Stallings Photo)

What would it be like for a player with Kentucky ties to win this week’s Barbasol Championship?

“It would be awesome. I think BBN would get pretty behind it,” said former University of Kentucky golfer Stephen Stallings after Wednesday’s Pro-Am round. “You got me and Josh (Teater), who went to Morehead but is a UK guy.”

Could it happen? Probably not but it is not an impossible task.

Stallings tied for 25th with a 72-hole, 12-under par finish — the same score that world’s No. 1 player Scottie Scheffler posted — at The American Express in California in January in his only start on the PGA Tour this year.

Remember at last year’s Barbasol he was 6-under through eight holes before cooling off and finishing the tourney 1-under par. But if he got on another hot streak, he has to believe he could contend.

The left-hander won the Kentucky state high school title in 2011 playing for St. Xavier and was the captain of the UK golf team that also had fellow PGA Tour Latinoamérica member Fred Meyer and PGA Tour Canada players Cooper Musselman and Lukas Euler.

“It is kind of crazy that we are all playing in different parts of the world but we are still doing it,” Stallings said.

He has spent most of the last year in South American on the Latinoamerica Tour where he had two top 20 finishes. He found out how “lucky” he was to live where he does based on the economy in most of South America.

“Ten dollars goes a long way down there. They work for different kinds of money and don’t have the technology we have,” Stallings said.

He said getting to the golf courses was not always easy.

“We tried to leave three or four hours before our tee times because it was hard to get Ubers,” he said. “They drive crazy and don’t follow any rules. But we did get to see some cool courses in a different part of the world.”

Now he’s back home with family and friends where he doesn’t have to worry about food or rides to a course he knows very well from his college days.

“I know the course. It’s just gaining more belief in my game as I get older and have gone to different parts of the world to play golf. This year I have more confidence in what I can do. Not that I didn’t have last year but it has just kept growing,” he said.

The Barbasol winner gets the final spot in next week’s British Open at historic St. Andrews.

“That would be pretty cool. It does not get better than St. Andrews,” Stallings said.

However, he knows the winner likely will need to be 22- or 23-under par.

“It is about hitting fairways and making putts. Everybody can hit a wedge (to the greens) here, so you want to go fairway to green and give yourself a chance. The winner might make 30 birdies,” Stallings said.

Larry Vaught
Larry Vaught is a seven-time winner of the Kentucky Sportswriter of the Year award and has covered University of Kentucky sports since 1975. Larry now has a syndicated UK sports column appearing in 34 newspapers across the state as well as, and Larry also joins Mark Buerger and Anthony White on WLAP Sunday Morning Sports each week in Lexington as well as appearing each Tuesday with Tom Leach on The Leach Report.

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