By Tim O’Connor
Two years ago, junior golfer Dustin Barr was undergoing chemotherapy for two tumours, but he continued to practice every day and compete.
That will to win helped him beat cancer and over the weekend, the 19-year-old from Thunder Bay, Ont., won his first junior tournament in Florida against top young players from around the world.
Barr went wire-to-wire in shooting consecutive scores of 71 to win the Boys 15-19 division of the Future Collegians World Tour event at Saddlebrook Resort in Wesley Chapel, Florida by two strokes.
“I’ve worked really hard to get where I am right now. This means a lot,” said Barr, whose dreams of a NCAA college scholarship and playing on the PGA Tour never wavered even after the two tumours were found – one in his pancreas and another on his hip – in March, 2013.
At the time, doctors said Barr required surgery that would cut out part of his pancreas and force a hip replacement.
From March through August, he underwent seven rounds of chemotherapy, but his coach in Thunder Bay, Dustin Wilson, said Barr “played golf everyday and you’d never know he had cancer.”
After a golf trip to Scotland with Wilson that included his “wish” round at The Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland arranged by the Children’s Wish Foundation, Barr continued chemotherapy and competing even though his hair fell out and he felt exhausted.
Back in Canada, Barr underwent 16 hours of successful surgery and his hip was saved. He immediately began a physiotherapy program to build his strength.
This past January, Barr was strong enough to enroll at Core Golf Academy in Orlando, Fla., where he’s working on his game with coach Nick Duffy, competing and hoping to catch the eyes of some NCAA college coaches.
In Thunder Bay, his mother Leanne said the family was overjoyed. “We have cleared the avalanche and now just have to get to the top of that mountain,” she said.
Jeff Hay, Core’s director of golf, said Barr’s victory has thrilled everyone connected with the academy and demonstrated the young man’s grit and determination.
“It’s tremendous how Dustin has overcome such odds and continued to pursue his dream,” said Hay.
“Because of his illness, he really hasn’t played many tournaments against top competition, which makes his win all that more incredible,” he added.