The 27-year-old Payne, whose best previous finish in an official Tour event was a tie for ninth at last years Eagle Creek Classic, carded a 5-under par 67 to wind up at 7-under for the tournament, one shot better than Jason Bohn (Atlanta, Ga.). A trio of Canadians, John Drewery (Cambridge, ON), Davidson Matyczuk (Thunder Bay, ON) and Zoltan Veress (Kitchener, ON) finished in a tie for third, three shots back.
But Sunday belonged to Payne, who began the day eight strokes behind Bohn and didnt have a bogey over his final 29 holes despite winds that reached as high as 75 km/h.
To be honest, I never thought about winning the tournament, admitted Payne, a participant in the 1996 and 1997 U.S. Amateur Championships. I never looked at a scoreboard all day, not even on 18. But I knew I must have been close when people started showing up in the gallery around the 15th hole.
Playing six groups ahead of Bohn and Veress, Payne used a flop shot from 40 yards out that came to within three feet of the pin, enabling him to grab birdie and get into the clubhouse at 7-under. Bohn missed short par putts on the 16th and 17th and needed an eagle on the par-4 final hole to force a playoff, but his chip shot from the fringe missed the cup by a foot.
I cant explain it, I always seem to play well in nasty conditions, Payne added. When Jason was 15-under through 36 holes, that was truly unbelievable golf I thought I maybe had a chance at second. Even until his final shot, I thought we were going to extra holes.
Bohn, who lead the tournament from Thursdays opening round right through Sunday, was left to ponder what might have been after dropping two shots late in the round with missed putts, but was quick to give credit to Payne.
You have to change your game with the conditions, and obviously I couldnt do that over the past two days. I dont think I lost the golf tournamentBrian won it. I didnt think 5-under was possible today, so when a guy can do that, he deserves it.
Sunday was also the final day Canadian Tour players could earn exemptions into this weeks Air Canada Championship in Vancouver, as well as the Bell Canadian Open in Quebec. Paul Devenport (New Zealand), Aaron Barber (Orlando, Fla.) and Mark Slawter (Raleigh, N.C.) are the top three leaders on the McDonalds Order of Merit and earned berths, as did top Canadians Craig Matthew (Ile Bizard, QC) and Todd Fanning (Winnipeg, MB).
Full-field scores from the Aliant Cup