Fallon grad qualifies for Barracuda Championship

Fallon grad and ex-Wolf Pack golfer Scott Smith has been lying low since he competed in the U.S. Open four years ago.

Now, Smith has risen up and is back in the spotlight.

Smith, who helped Fallon win its first-ever state golf title and was the top golfer in 2006, won the Reno Open on Wednesday to earn an automatic berth to the Barracuda Championship and a leader’s share of a $7,500 cash purse. The PGA Tour event is June 30 through July 2 at Montreux.

“It’s definitely a nice feeling,” Smith said. “I’m excited and looking forward to that week for sure.”

Smith will be competing in his third Barracuda Championship after he made his professional debut in 2011 when the event was called the Reno-Tahoe Open. Smith missed the cut that year but came back in 2012 to qualify.

Smith took about six months off from competitive golf, which gave him time to focus on a new approach to the game. So far, it’s paying off.

“It’s been kind of a nice break,” said Smith, who last competed in Q school. “I’m excited to be playing again and excited to play good golf. I think it allowed me to recharge my batteries and I feel nice and fresh out there. I’ve wanted to play but I wasn’t able to. It feels good to get back in tournament action.”

Instead of focusing on perfection, Smith worked on his mental approach and attitude, honing in on playing more relaxed.

“It’s just been more confidence,” Smith said. “I’ve been working on my attitude lately. It’s easy in this game to get really hard on yourself. I just sat back and thought that it’s not about being perfect. I’ve been playing smart golf. I’ve had a few stress-free rounds. Compared to a few years ago, I feel like I’m a more experienced and mature player. I’m definitely excited for the next few weeks.”

Smith bested Ben Kern by one point to win the Reno Open as he tallied 11 points in his final round to conclude with 25 points in the Modified Stableford format. Kern finished with 24, followed by JJ Holen with 23 to conclude the two-day tournament at the Washoe County Golf Course.

“This is what I’ve wanted to do,” Smith said about staying true to professional golf. “I’ve been working hard for it. It’s a tough game, sometimes. It’s just a lot more difficult than some people think. I’ve never second-guessed myself about what I’ve tried to do.”

Before Smith competes in the Reno-based tournament, he will have another shot of qualifying for the US Open next month in Pennsylvania. Smith won the local qualifier on Monday by shooting a 64 at Genoa to medal. He will compete on June 6 in the sectional qualifier in San Francisco where he frequented during his college and early professional days.

“It will be nice to get back over there,” he said. “I played there in college and had some success when I turned pro.”

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