[PHOTO: Andy Lyons]

The Puerto Rico Open came down to two players today who have spent their careers putting the journey in journeyman – Brice Garnett finally reaching his destination before Erik Barnes did with a winning birdie on the fourth playoff hole.

For Garnett, 40, with little PGA Tour status and playing in his first tour event of the year, the victory was the second of his career, six years after his first.

“I told somebody at home last week I wouldn’t still be playing if I didn’t believe I could do this,” he said, unsuccessfully fighting back tears. “I just came with such a thankful heart this week. I was so excited for the opportunity to compete out here again. Everybody back home, my family, my friends, my coaches, I think they probably believed in me more than I believed in myself the past two years. It’s hard, but this is why we do it.

“It’s huge. Three more years on this tour (the rest of the 2024 season and a two-year exemption after that), some events I get in, the opportunity to get into bigger events. Really a lot of unknowns this year, I wanted to start with a stress-free beginning to the year.”

Garnett, 535th in the Official World Golf Ranking, closed with a three-under-par 69 at Grand Reserve Golf Club in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico, to tie with Barnes at 19-under 269. Barnes closed with a 68.

The duo matched the first three extra holes with pars, birdies and pars on the par-5 18th hole, then Garnett prevailed by holing a 15-foot birdie putt on their fourth extra playing of the 18th, before Barnes missed from about 12 feet from the fringe.

For Barnes, 36, and 456th in the world ranking, it was only the 22nd PGA Tour start of a career that started with him playing the Hooters Tour, followed by the PGA Tour Canada, PGA Tour Latinoamerica and the Korn Ferry Tour before finally reaching the PGA Tour.

The clubs Brice Garnett used to win the 2024 Puerto Rico Open

Garnett, meanwhile, had earned nearly $US7 million in his PGA Tour career, with his only victory coming in the Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship in the Dominican Republic in 2018. He’d had only three Korn Ferry Tour starts this year prior to winning today. He earned $US720,000 for this win.

The victory gets him in the Players Championship this week, as well as the PGA Championship in May.