Lachlan Barker is back on course this week in the Yarra Valley for the Heritage Classic, looking to further bolster his strong Challenger PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit (OOM) standing.

Barker is sixth on the season-long standings, but is effectively third because Min Woo Lee, Adam Scott, and Marc Leishman – all ranked ahead of him – are unlikely to reach the required four tournaments to qualify for OOM status.

The top-three placed players on the OOM standings at season’s end receive status on the DP World Tour, a huge prize for Aussie players looking to take the next step in their careers.

“It’s huge! It’s why I’m here this week,” Barker said of his decision to play the Heritage Classic ahead of the Asian Tour qualifying school beginning in Thailand next Tuesday.

“I’m flying to Thailand at midnight on Sunday, and I’ll only get one very brief practice round. That’s how big the DP World Tour carrot is.”

His first professional win at last year’s PNG Open kick-started Barker’s season, and with a couple of top-10s at the NT PGA and WA PGA, he has been able to hold his strong position on the OOM.

“It’s my second season on tour, my first one I experienced all the emotions, some good, some bad,” he said. “I struggled to keep my card and went back to qualifying school, but this season it’s been the opposite. I feel like I belong.”

This week marks the return of the Heritage Classic to the Challenger PGA Tour of Australasia schedule, its first playing since 2013, and Barker is excited to have it back.

“I love this place, my first ever Aussie junior was here at The Heritage and I fell in love,” he said. “It was my first big tournament as a kid and I played well, so look out!”

After playing in the final stages of Asian Tour qualifying school, Barker is coming straight home to play in the Webex Players Series Victoria at Rosebud, making sure he is not missing any opportunity to gain OOM points.

“You can’t hide from it. I mean, we’re all trying to get it,” Barker said of the DP World Tour status.

“I’m missing Webex Players Series Murray River, but I am playing every single other event. When the season finishes, we’ll see where we stand.”

The Heritage Classic begins today, and despite heavy rainfall in recent days, the St John course at The Heritage Golf & Country Club has dried out remarkably.

The final two rounds will be broadcast live on Foxtel and Kayo, from 4pm-7pm on Saturday and Sunday.