The career of Justin Warren has always been fascinating to observe. The prodigious hitter coming to a realisation after a disappointing finish to 2024 that could dramatically alter his trajectory.
Hailing from Picton in south-west Sydney, Warren’s talent for the game has never been questioned.
Not just a bomber off the tee, the 28-year-old is the type of player regularly described as having “great hands for a big man” yet results as a professional have been what could have been.
Personified by the New South Welshman’s missed putt from 18 inches to fall short of a spot at the 2021 Barracuda Championship on the PGA Tour.
Warren got redemption by qualifying into the same tournament the next year, however, once again it was a case of what could have been that kick started a new era as he finished 2023.
Right in the mix with Adam Scott at the Cathedral Invitational, Warren made a double bogey followed by a triple to drop out of the race for a career changing first place cheque.
“That’s golf, it’s just brutal,” he said at the time.
However, after a birdie chip bounced out of the hole for a 62 on Friday at the Webex Players Series Sydney, Warren reflected on the moment that saw him return in 2024 to earn playing rights on the Asian Tour last month.
“I think I just kind of realised that, obviously this is our profession, and this is what we do, and as much as we might say we don’t play for the money, at the end of the day, we play for money,” he said.
“I think a lot of those results like I had at Cathedral, not that I am choking or things like that, but it’s costing me a lot.
“I just kind of went ‘It’s just time to grow up and start being a professional and play some proper smart, professional golf’.”
Realising that minimising mistakes combined with taking opportunities is the key to success, Warren has certainly showed his new mindset at Castle Hill Country Club where he sits in a tie for fifth halfway.
The ‘new’ Warren even more clearly on display at qualifying for the Asian Tour where he was third and one of six Australians to earn their card for 2024 alongside Harrison Crowe, Sam Brazel, Lachlan Barker, Jordan Zunic and Maverick Antcliff.
“I just decided after the double-triple at cathedral, that it was time to mature and be a little bit smarter about the way I play and the way I handle myself on the golf course,” he said.
Where that attitude sees him finish in his home city before he departs for Asia as part of a seven week tournament run will play out over this weekend.
And if there is any doubt that the new mindset might curb Warren’s ability to go low, had his chip dropped for 62 on Friday, it would have been his third such score of 2024.
“I’ve had two 62s in the last four weeks, that would have been third,” he said with a wry smile on his face.