There’s one shot in particular he would like back but Sydney’s Justin Warren says he will take a great deal of pride from the way he fought back to finish second at the Moonah Links PGA Classic on Thursday.
With two early birdies and an eagle at the par-5 fourth Warren found himself with a three-shot advantage as he neared the halfway mark of the final round.
A dropped shot at the par-3 seventh was the first of three in a run of four holes but rather than falling completely off the leaderboard Warren pressed on and had a chance to force a playoff on the 72nd hole.
Short-sided behind one of the Open Course’s infamous pot bunkers on the par-5 18th, Warren played an exquisite flop shot that finished four feet from the hole, his birdie putt not enough to haul in the 18-under mark posted by Victorian Bryden Macpherson.
Tied for fifth at the Victorian PGA Championship that finished in the same spot five days ago, Warren leaves Moonah Links with plenty of positives and just one shot in the final round that he would like over.
“If I could go back I’d probably like to hit my second shot on nine again,” said Warren, who had rounds of 67-69-67-68 to finish outright second at 17-under.
“I had 95 metres to a front-left pin, pretty simple pitch shot. Just had to land it a little bit past and to the right and let it spin back toward the hole.
“I had an awkward stance, ball above my feet on a bit of an upslope and I just absolutely smothered this thing and hit it so far left, 20 metres past where I was trying to hit it.
“I put myself in a horrendous position and realistically wasn’t going to get up-and-down from but gave myself a chance at making par.
“If I could go back I’d love to hit that second shot again.”
In order to get the field through the final 36 holes in one day on a course as large as the Open Course at Moonah Links, players were in carts for both rounds on Thursday and gave Warren little time to compose himself as he struggled mid-round.
“When you’re in a cart, if you hit a bad shot you’re up at your ball in 45 seconds,” said Warren, who has experience playing tournaments in carts from his days playing college golf in the US.
“I made a few bogeys through the middle and it all felt like it happened quite quickly.
“You make a bogey then you’re off to the next hole, then you make another one and you’re going hole by hole quite quickly.”
Although he tried to keep his eyes from scanning the leaderboard in the scoring app being used by the players, Warren gathered that he held a handy advantage early in his final round but managed to avert his gaze until the final hole with the tournament on the line.
“We were doing the live scoring through the app but I didn’t want to check it all day,” said Warren, who will tee it up at The Murray Open at Corowa Golf Club next week.
“I heard whispers here and there and John (Lyras) was having a bit of a look so I did know that at one point on the front nine I had a three-shot lead but it wasn’t until I got to 18 tee that I thought I should have a look and see what I had to potentially do down the last.
“Definitely proud of the way I fought back. I made a nice birdie on 11 and a good birdie on 15, unfortunately made a soft bogey on 16 but holed a bomb on 17 for birdie and had to hole the third shot on 18 to force a playoff.
“It was probably never going in but I gave it a really good chance so I can’t be too hard on myself.”