LAKE OCONEE, Ga. – What would a Big Break finale be without some drama?
Jay Woodson shot a bogey-free 68 on Friday to win the inaugural Big Break Invitational Reynolds Plantation and the $100K first-place prize.
"It's still a little in shock," Woodson said immediately following his win. "I knew what I was capable of doing and was confident in my abilities and [could] make it from one cut to the next - make it to the match play, make it to the final round, and let things happen from there."
Three under heading to the par-5 18th and in the second-to-last group, Woodson knocked his second shot over the green and into a greenside bunker. He hit a near-perfect bunker shot that barely cleared the lip of the bunker, landed on the fringe, and nestled to 6 feet. He drained that for birdie to finish 4 under.
"It was severely downhill and I had a downhill lie in the bunker, not to mention there was water on the other side [of the green]. ... I probably had a 2-foot circle I could land the ball on to get to where it did. I hit a great shot, but I got lucky, too."
Around that same time, Emily Talley, playing in the final pairing, made double bogey at the par-3 17th to drop from 4 under to 2 under.
Similarly, Tony Finau - who has his 2014-15 PGA Tour card and appeared the favorite to win - made double bogey on 16 to fall from 3 under to 1 under.
Talley and Finau both made birdies at the 18th to finish at 3 under and 2 under, respectively, but it was Woodson's dramatic birdie finish that secured the title.
"It's huge for my confidence," Woodson said, "knowing I can play this well under those conditions and under those circumstances. Tony Finau is going to have a great career on the PGA Tour and Tommy Gainey is already a PGA Tour winner. To go head-to-head with these guys and to outlast them for a week-long tournament - that's good."
Woodson, 32, was on "Big Break" Mexico in 2013. He's currently competing on the NGA Pro Tour Series and various other mini tours. He finished fourth on the Pro Series money list ($34,752) in 2014 thanks, in part, to a win and a runner-up finish.
The first two rounds of the Big Break Invitational were Modified Stableford, followed by match play Thursday, and a stroke-play finale.
Woodson - the No. 11 seed in match play after two rounds of Modified Stableford, advanced to Friday's final by beating No. 2 seed Mark Murphy on Thursday, 5 and 4.