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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M. Jutanugarn eyeing first win with L.A. Open lead

By Associated PressApril 21, 2018, 1:50 am

LOS ANGELES - Moriya Jutanugarn took the lead into the weekend at the Hugel-JTBC L.A. Open in her latest bid to join younger sister Ariya as an LPGA winner.

Moriya Jutanugarn shot a bogey-free 5-under 66 on Friday at Wilshire Country Club to get to 8-under 134 in the LPGA Tour's first event in Los Angeles since 2005. The 23-year-old from Thailand started fast with birdies on the par-5 second, par-4 third and par-3 fourth and added two more on the par-4 11th and par-5 13th.

Ariya Jutanugarn has seven LPGA victories.

Marina Alex was second after a 68.

Full-field scores from the Hugel-JTBC Open

So Yeon Ryu was 6 under after a 69, and fellow South Korean players Inbee Park(71) and Eun-Hee Ji (69). Park was the first-round leader at 66. Lexi Thompsonwas 3 under after a 71.

Top-ranked Shanshan Feng followed her opening 74 with a 67 to get to 1 under.

Ariya Jutanugarn (71) was even par, and Michelle Wie (70) was 1 over. Brooke Henderson, the Canadian star who won last week in Hawaii, had a 79 to miss the cut.

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Johnson, Moore co-lead Valero Texas Open through 36

By Associated PressApril 21, 2018, 1:00 am

SAN ANTONIO - Zach Johnson was going nowhere in the Valero Texas Open when it all changed with one putt.

He made an 8-foot par putt on the 13th hole of the opening round to stay at 2 under. He followed with a big drive, a hybrid into 12 feet and an eagle. Johnson was on his way, and he kept right on going Friday to a 7-under 65 and a share of the 36-hole lead with Ryan Moore.

''You just never know. That's the beauty of this game,'' Johnson said. ''I felt like I was hitting some solid shots and wasn't getting rewarded, and you've just got to stay in it. You've got to persevere, grind it out, fight for pars. You just never know.''

Moore had three birdies over his last five holes for a 67 and joined Johnson at 9-under 135.

They had a one-shot lead over Grayson Murray (69) and Andrew Landry (67).

Ben Crane (66), Martin Laird (65) and David Hearn (68) were three shots behind. Billy Horschel and Keegan Bradley shot 71 and were four shots behind at 5-under 139.

Full-field scores from the Valero Texas Open

Valero Texas Open: Articles, photos and videos

Sergio Garcia, who consulted Greg Norman on the design of the AT&T Oaks Course at the TPC San Antonio, had a short stay in his first time at the Texas Open since 2010. Garcia shot an even-par 72, and at one point became so frustrated he threw his driver into the shrubs.

Garcia finished at 2-over 146 and missed the cut.

It was the first time since 2010 that Garcia missed the cut in successive starts. That was the PGA Championship and, 10 weeks later, the Castello Masters in Spain. This time, he missed the cut in the Masters and Texas Open three weeks apart.

Johnson, a two-time winner of the Texas Open, appeared to be headed to a short week until the key par save on the 13th hole, followed by his eagle, par and three straight birdies. He began the second round Friday with five birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine, a sixth birdie on the par-4 first hole, and then an eagle on the short par-4 fifth when he holed out from a greenside bunker.

The only sour taste to his second round was a three-putt bogey from about 30 feet on his final hole. Even so, the view was much better than it was Thursday afternoon.

Moore thought he had wasted a good birdie opportunity on the par-5 14th hole when he left his 50-foot eagle putt about 6 feet short. But he made that, and then holed a similar putt from 8 feet for birdie on the next hole and capped his good finish with a 15-foot putt on the 17th.

''That was a huge momentum putt there,'' Moore said of the 14th. ''It was a tough putt from down there with a lot of wind. That green is pretty exposed and ... yeah, really short and committed to that second putt really well and knocked it right in the middle.''

The birdies on the 14th and 15th were important to Moore because he missed a pair of 10-foot birdie tries to start the back nine.

''So it was nice to get those and get going in the right direction on the back,'' he said.

The cut was at 1-over 145, and because 80 players made the cut, there will be a 54-hole cut on Saturday.

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Garcia tosses driver, misses Valero cut

By Will GrayApril 21, 2018, 1:00 am

It wasn't quite to the level of his watery meltdown earlier this month at the Masters, but Sergio Garcia still got frustrated during the second round of the Valero Texas Open - and his driver paid the price.

Garcia had a hand in redesigning the AT&T Oaks Course along with Greg Norman several years ago, but this marked his first return to TPC San Antonio since 2010. After an opening-round 74, Garcia arrived to the tee of the short par-4 fifth hole and decided to get aggressive with driver in hand.

When his shot sailed well left, a heated Garcia chucked the club deep into the bushes that lined the tee box:

It took considerable effort for Garcia to find and retrieve the club amid the branches, and once he did things only got worse. He appeared to shank a chip once he got up to his ball, leading to a bogey on one of the easiest holes on a demanding track.

Garcia closed out his round with four straight pars, and at 2 over he eventually missed the cut by a shot. It marks the first time he has missed consecutive cuts on the PGA Tour since 2003, when he sat out the weekend at the AT&T Byron Nelson, Fort Worth Invitational and Memorial Tournament in successive weeks.

Garcia entered the week ranked No. 10 in the world, and he was the only top-20 player among the 156-man field. He missed the cut at the Masters in defense of his title after carding an octuple-bogey 13 on the 15th hole during the opening round.

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Daly-Allen team grabs Legends of Golf lead on Day 2

By Associated PressApril 20, 2018, 11:14 pm

RIDGEDALE, Mo. - John Daly and Michael Allen took the second-round lead Friday in the cool and breezy Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf.

Daly and Allen shot an 8-under 46 on the Top of the Rock par-3 course with wind gusting to 15 mph and the temperature only in the high-50s at Big Cedar Lodge. They had three birdies on the front nine in alternate-shot play and added five more on the back in better-ball play to get to 13 under.

''Michael and I go back to the South African days in the late 80s and playing that tour,'' Daly said. ''We've been buddies since. He's just fun to play with. We feed off each other pretty good. And if he's not comfortable guinea-pigging on one hole, I'll go first.''

On Thursday, they opened with a 66 on the regulation Buffalo Ridge course. They will rotate to the 13-hole Mountain Top par-3 course on Saturday, and return to Top of the Rock for the final round Sunday.

''I went to high school in Jeff City, so it's cool to have the fans behind us,'' Daly said.

Allen won the PGA Tour Champions team event with David Frost in 2012 and Woody Austin in 2016.

''I'm just here to free up John,'' Allen said. ''It was fun. Luckily, I started making good putts today. We just want to keep the good times rolling.''

Full-field scores from the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf

Defending champions Vijay Singh and Carlos Franco were a stroke back along with Bernhard Langer-Tom Lehman and Paul Broadhurst-Kirk Triplett. Singh and Franco had a 7-under 32 in best-ball play at Mountain Top, and Lehman-Langer and Broadhurst-Tripplet each shot 6-under 48 at Top of the Rock.

''Part of the issue here is all the tees are elevated, so you're up high hitting to a green that's down below and the wind is blowing, and there is more time for that wind to affect it,'' Lehman said. ''If you guess wrong on the wind, you can hit a really good shot and kind of look stupid.''

Former UCLA teammates Scott McCarron and Brandt Jobe were two strokes back at 11 under with Steve Flesch and David Toms and the Spanish side of Jose Maria Olazabal and Miguel Angel Jimenez. McCarron-Jobe had a 47, and Jimenez-Olazabal a 48 at Top of the Rock, and Tom Flesch shot 34 at Mountain Top.

First-round leaders Jeff Maggert and Jesper Parnevik had a 52 at Top of the Rock to fall three shots back at 10 under. Madison, Wisconsin, friends Steve Stricker and Jerry Kelly also were 10 under after a 32 at Mountain Top. Jay Haas aced the 131-yard seventh hole at Mountain Top with a gap wedge. Haas and fellow 64-year-old Peter Jacobsen were 8 under after a 32.