In a nine-hole, stroke-play contest for the right to advance to the shows finale, Matsuo recorded an even-par 35 on the front side of the Palmer Course at the Oasis Golf Club in Mesquite. Nev. to force a playoff with Warthen. On the first extra hole, Matsuo was sent home from the series after making par on the par-5 eighth hole while Warthen posted birdie.
Kontak cruised into the finale with a 3-under 32 that was highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole. He will face Warthen in the series finale with the winner earning the coveted exemption to play in the 2008 Mayakoba Golf Classic on the PGA TOUR.
Matsuo was the latest victim in a series filled with surprises. In the second show, Matt Every, one of the initial favorites to win Big Break: Mesquite, suffered a 10-point loss to plummet in the point standings and lost a five-man Elimination Challenge.
Two episodes later, Anthony Rodriguez was in second place in the standings when he was sent home.
Matsuo losing, though, might be the most unexpected of the bombshell eliminations to hit the series. After all, he had led the series points standings since the first show with steady play and errorless course management.
Putting, the one flaw to his game, ultimately contributed to his demise.
The main reason Im not playing full-time is I have no confidence in the putter, Matsuo said before the series.
This is coming from a player who has experience on the Nationwide Tour and has played in a U.S. Open.
Ive known him a long time and he is extremely talented, said three-time PGA TOUR winner Olin Browne. He has so much ability, which sometimes can add pressure because people wonder why you havent done more with your game. When he is putting well, he is hard to beat because he strikes the ball so well.
Making the upset more unexpected was Warthen. The least experienced player in the field survived by escaping elimination early and becoming a force as his confidence grew.
Somewhat like the current PGA TOUR star Will MacKenzie, who took a sabbatical from golf to snow ski and surf before making it on TOUR, Warthen is a surfer-turned-filmmaker-turned-golfer. Picture Payne Stewart meeting Jeff Spicoli and you have Warthen.
His professional career got off to a righteous start last October when he won the first event he played on the California Players Tour. He still plays the circuit and has continued practicing to make the most of both his talent and life.
I feel like I have this talent for a reason and thats why Im going for it, said Warthen. God put golf in my life to teach me to be a responsible human being. This life isnt just about yourself. I am going to be able to act in a certain way and say stuff that will make people feel good and want to make people see themselves that way.
After the making a body boarding film in high school called Adolescence, at 19, he started playing golf again and instantly fell in love with the game. His enthusiasm led to both a job at a golf course and purchasing a set of clubs.
I had a natural feel, Warthen said about being re-introduced to the game. When I first came back to golf I could chip and putt but couldnt hit the ball straight. I was hooked on trying to figure out how to hit it straight.
The game seems to be pretty clear to him now. And if he lasts one more show to win Big Break: Mesquite, Warthen's ocean-sized talent will have this surfer riding all the way to the PGA TOUR.