Justin Payne's Final Words

By May 31, 2011, 5:03 pm

My experience on Big Break Indian Wells is something I will never forget!  I had almost given up on playing professional golf after battling through a couple of injuries last year that completely took me out of golf…that is until I got the call that I was going to be on the show.  It was a once in a lifetime experience for a small town guy from Texas.  Almost immediately I became good friends with Russell, Piri and Will. As the show progressed, I also became friends with just about everyone else on there, except of course Kent.  When you get two guys together who think and know inside that they are probably the two best all-around players of the group, then you can't really expect them to get along in competition. I may have come across to some of the competitors and viewers as cocky and arrogant, but it is just my competitive nature. I am actually a really nice guy; I just HATE to lose!! 

I was pretty excited when we drove up and saw the Glass-Breaking Challenge. It should have been my cup of tea because of where I grew up.  Playing in the winds of west Texas you learn to control the trajectory of your ball really well, otherwise the 30 or 40 mph winds will take your ball to places you don't want to go.  This challenge actually took a lot more shots than what was shown on the show because it was so difficult.  What wasn't shown was before Kent took out Will and I on his last two shots, I had a chance to take him out and be the hero for our team. My shot missed his plate of glass by no more than a half an inch right below it almost hitting the post that was holding it up.  After I missed, I had a feeling that we weren't going to get another shot because of the rhythm that Kent had going, and I was right. 

The second challenge was against our own team, hitting it inside the circles for points and the top two earned immunity.  I have no regrets about this challenge because I hit every shot just how I wanted; they just didn't turn out.  And that is golf.  The first two from 130 yards in the fairway should have been fairly easy to get inside at least the two-point circle.  I thought the first shot I hit was going to be really close based on the yardage and the wind.  It was right on the flag, and when it came down I didn't see it until after it bounced- - it was on such a good line the pin blocked the view of it.  The second shot I toned it down a little and tried to use the slope on the right side of the green to bring it back down to the 3-point circle.  That backfired because I hit it about two yards too far and it didn't land into the slope.  Both of my shots I hit just a stock pitching wedge expecting the ball to spin back a little like it always does.  Well you know how that turned out, no more than a foot outside the 2-point circle.  That put me in a real bind going to the next shots because I was in a big hole.  All I was thinking about was the 3-point circle.  The first shot I hit exactly how I wanted. Coming out of the rough you don't expect the ball to spin at all. I figured if I landed it around the 2-point line that it would release on up to the 3-point circle and I would be right back in it. Boy, was I wrong. It actually hit the chalk line and came ripping back like I had hit it out of the fairway.  So that meant that I was going to the Elimination Challenge.   

If you watched the show then you probably saw Kent butt-in when I was talking to Russell about my shot that hit the chalk line.  'You just got beat, You just got beat.', were his words.  That actually came from Russ and I talking about the difference between the points of the two groups and that if I had been in the other group I would have been in a playoff with those two.  What wasn't shown was the conflict between Kent and I where he butted into mine and Russell's conversation.  If it hadn't been for Russell keeping me calm, something would have happened because I don't put up with rude and un-classy people attacking me personally and making a mockery of me when all I was doing was explaining to Russell what happened on my shot, because where Safe City was, you couldn't see the green.    

In the Elimination Challenge, it was me and Shanks.  We had five stations: putting, chipping, waste bunker, fairway and the entire hole.  I was confident in my ability to win heads-up, but when he chose to buy the extra half a point to be up one whole point, it was going to be a difficult task to overcome, to say the least!! Especially when I found out it was only a race to three points, not the best out of the five.  We halved the first station because I hit an awful putt and left it two feet short, in the dead center of the hole.  I couldn't afford any mistakes already being a full point behind and I just made one.  Luckily, he didn't make his so we halved the first station.  The next station was a chip.  My short game is what I usually pride myself on, being able to get the ball up and down from just about anywhere.  In my mind I needed to make it to put some pressure on him because all he had to do was tie me for the next three and he wins.  I hit a good shot to about a foot and a half where I shouldn't have, to worry about the putt.  After Shank made his five-footer I just stepped up there like I always do to tap it in.  I had let my mind wonder onto the next shot out of the waste bunker and not on the shot at hand and it cost me, BIG TIME!!  I just pulled it.  Now the pressure was really mounting square on my shoulders.  Shank hit a great shot out of the waste area to about ten feet.  I wasn't completely dead yet because I have seen people 3 putt from much less than that, but I wasn't counting on it.  I hit what I thought was a good shot, right at the hole. My distance control out of that stuff just wasn't there.  It ended up almost exactly where we had just chipped from.  I tried to make the next shot because that was the only chance that I really had.  It wasn't shown in the episode, but I made my four-footer to force Shank to 2 putt for the win, which he did.  I felt like I beat myself because I missed that little short putt, and was more upset with myself and being down a full point than anything else.  There were some comments made about me not being a good sport for losing, and needing to work on my people skills, but I shook his hand like a man and told him good job. And I lost. I hate to lose.  I am not going to be all smiles and cheery after I lose at anything to someone, especially when I felt like I beat myself!  And if people think that I have character flaws because I don't watch others when I am playing, then they can just think that. But I have never watched others hit or putt or anything else during competition. I focus on my game and if that is a character flaw then it is, but that is just the way I am.  I don't have any regrets about the shots or any of my actions on the show, except for one, and you have to know me personally to find that out.   

As for what I am doing after the show, it is really up in the air.  Being on Big Break has rekindled the fire underneath me to try to pursue a career playing golf because it has brought into focus just how good I can really be and how good I want to be; I just need to catch my break to get there.  I showed sparks of the old Justin in a couple of shots, but it is hard to calm your nerves when you have been out of competitive golf for almost two years.  I am currently playing in Monday qualifiers for PGA and Nationwide events and thinking about moving to Florida to try to pursue my dream.  It is almost within my grasp. I just need my Big Break!  I thought this might be it, but I didn't perform the way I would have liked.  Who knows, maybe I will make it through a Monday Qualifier and you will see me playing in a PGA event this year.  Based on what all the guys told me on the show and PGA pros that I play with in Dallas, I more than have the ability and game, and I was one of the best players there, but it wasn't meant to be.  I have made some lifelong friends through this experience and would like to thank Golf Channel and the producers for giving me the opportunity to be on the show!  Our lives are already planned out for us, so you never know what the next curve in the road is going to bring!!  Best of luck to everyone!!

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Watch: Fathauer dunks one off flagstick for eagle

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 17, 2018, 7:45 pm

The NBA All-Star Slam Dunk Contest will take place Saturday night in Los Angeles, but Derek Fathauer kicked things off a little early with this eagle in the third round of the Genesis Open.

Playing his second shot on the par-4 third hole at Riviera Country Club, Fathauer dunked one off the flagstick and into the hole for an eagle-2:

The shot got the the 32-year-old, in search of his first PGA Tour victory, under par for the round and into the mix early on Moving Day.

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Luiten in three-way tie at Oman Open

By Associated PressFebruary 17, 2018, 4:17 pm

MUSCAT, Oman - Joost Luiten showed a return to form after a mediocre 2017 as he moved into a three-way tie for the lead in the Oman Open on Saturday.

The Dutchman shot a second straight 6-under 66 - the joint best score of the day - to move to 12-under 204. He was joined at the top by Matthew Southgate (69) and Frenchman Julien Guerrier (66) after the third round at the Greg Norman-designed Al Mouj Golf Club.

England's Chris Wood (69), another man on the comeback trail, was in fourth place at 11 under, but it could have been a lot better if not for a bogey-bogey finish. Adrian Otaegui (66) was a shot behind Wood while pre-tournament favorite, France's Alexander Levy (67), was at 9 under.

The 90th-ranked Luiten credited some hot iron play for his success after a cracked driver set him back last year when he had just two top-10 finishes the whole season.

Full-field scores from the NBO Oman Golf Classic

''I cracked my driver in my first tournament of the year in Abu Dhabi and it took me almost six months to get another one that I really liked. Once you are not driving the ball well, it puts pressure on other parts of your game,'' said the 32-year-old Luiten. ''My iron play did not get me into trouble at all today.''

Southgate was quick off the block with three birdies in his first three holes. But the Englishman then made two bogeys and a double bogey in his next four holes, and a birdie on the ninth saw him make the turn at even-par.

That forced him to think differently for the back nine and he was rewarded with three birdies.

''It was quite funny really,'' Southgate said. ''We birdied the ninth and I walked off and said to my caddie Gary ... 'We've just shot level par, so let's just pretend that we've made nine solid pars and that we haven't holed a putt and haven't made a birdie. Let's just start again on the 10th'.''

The 32-year-old Guerrier started his round with a monster 48-foot birdie putt and had an eagle, six birdies and two bogeys.

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J.Y. Ko increases lead; Lydia focuses on positives

By Associated PressFebruary 17, 2018, 3:33 pm

ADELAIDE, Australia - Jin Young Ko continued her domination of the Women's Australian Open, shooting a 1-under 71 Saturday to increase her lead to four strokes after three rounds.

The South Korean, who led after each of the opening two rounds of the LPGA tournament, had a three-round total of 11-under 205 at Kooyonga Golf Club.

Australian golfer Hannah Green moved into second place after the round of the day, a 66.

Green, 21, is seeking to become the first Australian to claim her national crown since Karrie Webb won the last of her five titles in 2014. Webb, who is playing a part-time schedule in 2018, missed the cut Friday by one stroke.

Green birdied her first three holes on Saturday and then added two more on the eighth and ninth. Two more birdies followed on the back nine with her only dropped shot a bogey on the 17th.

Full-field scores from the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open

"I was very pleased with my ball striking," Green said. "I have put myself in contention so I'm very happy with how things are panning out.

"It was a real shame about Karrie missing the cut, but I know she has got different plans."

South Korea's Hyejin Choi (70), was tied for third, five strokes behind. Australia's top-ranked golfer Minjee Lee was tied for fifth after a 69, six off the lead.

Former No. 1 Lydia Ko shot a 71 and was eight strokes behind.

"It's always nice to be able to start the season on a good note, and I've obviously got tomorrow," Lydia Ko said. "Hopefully, I'll be able to finish off on a high note."

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Cantlay, McDowell, Saunders share lead at Riviera

By Doug FergusonFebruary 17, 2018, 3:51 am

LOS ANGELES - Tiger Woods waited 12 years to get back to Riviera and lasted only two days.

Woods had three straight bogeys early on the back nine Friday and didn't play well enough to make up for his misses. He had a 5-over 76 and missed the cut in the Genesis Open for the first time in nine appearances as a pro.

He was at 6-over 148, one shot worse than his PGA Tour debut as a 16-year-old at Riviera.

''I missed every tee shot left and I did not putt well, didn't feel very good on the greens,'' Woods said. ''And consequently, never made a run. I knew I had to make a run on that back nine, and I went the other way.''

Patrick Cantlay ran off three straight birdies toward the end of his morning round, starting with a tap-in on the par-3 sixth when he missed a hole-in-one by a fraction of an inch, and shot a 69. He was tied with Graeme McDowell (66), the former U.S. Open champion who is trying to work his way back from a two-year slump.

They were at 7-under 135.

Sam Saunders also was at 7 under, making back-to-back birdies until it was too dark to continue. He had three holes remaining in his second round. Ryan Moore bogeyed his final hole for a 68 and was one shot behind at 136.

Rory McIlroy overcame a few short misses on the front nine for a 69 and was at 2-under 140.

Full-field scores from the Genesis Open

Genesis Open: Articles, photos and videos

Cantlay was coming off a three-putt bogey when his tee shot at the par-3 sixth - the hole with a bunker in the middle of the green - landed above the flag and to the right, and then rolled back down the slope just over the right edge of the cup.

''I actually missed a little to the right, but it's a bowl back there so as long as you get the number right, it should be pretty close,'' Cantlay said.

He followed with a short iron into 5 feet for birdie, a 15-foot birdie on the next hole and then a wild drive that led to a bogey on his final hole.

McDowell has gone 59 starts worldwide since his last victory and has fallen out of the top 200 in the world. He had missed four straight cuts dating to late last year, though he felt he was hitting it well in practice. What helped was seeing some good scores.

''All I'm missing is a couple little numbers and a little bit of confidence,'' McDowell said.

Defending champion Dustin Johnson shot a 69 and gets to stick around for the weekend. He was at 1-over 143. Bubba Watson, who won in 2014 and 2016, has fallen out of the top 200 in the world after a two-year drought. He shot a 70 and was at 4-under 138, and then headed for the NBA All-Star weekend to play in the celebrity game.