08/04/2021 | News release | Distributed by Public on 08/04/2021 09:09
TOUR winner Michael Thompson tweeted, 'What a harsh lesson to learn. I pray Justin becomes a wiser pro because of that. There's a reason we PGA TOUR pros take so much time over tap ins. It's so easy to make a mistake. #everyshotcounts'
Asked Wednesday for the distance of the putt, Warren said, 'It was one foot.
'I simply didn't give the situation or the putt the respect it deserved,' he added. 'I saw that my coin was going to be in Mark's way, so I thought I'll just get up there and tap it in. Make Mark have to make his eagle putt to take the spot. But I rushed. I was nervous.'
To add an odd quirk to an already odd story, Warren wasn't even supposed to be in Reno, where his 'brain fart' opened the door for Baldwin to take the fourth and final qualifying spot. He was supposed to be home preparing for an Australasian Tour event followed by the first stage of European Tour qualifying tournament. (He missed getting through second stage by a shot in Spain in 2019.)
Alas, Warren couldn't get home due to the ever-evolving COVID restrictions.
'I was supposed to be quarantining in Sydney right now,' he said with a rueful laugh.
Until Monday, Warren was less famous than his grandfather, Barry Warren, who beat Bruce Devlin in the final of the 1957 Australian Amateur. Justin, 25, played for South Mountain C.C. in Phoenix and was an NJCAA (Div. II) champion in 2016 before finishing his collegiate career at Arkansas Little Rock.
Among his professional highlights was a fourth-place finish at the 2019 New South Wales Open, one of the bigger events of Australasian Tour. 'I was tied for the lead going into the last,' he said, 'but I went for glory and hit into the water and made double.'
Until he's able to get home, Warren's plan is to try to make the best of it by entering more qualifiers. He is at Indiana's Champions Pointe Golf Club for a pair of Forme Tour qualifiers, and otherwise isn't exactly sure where he'll tee it up next. The Barracuda was his sixth try at Monday qualifying for a TOUR event; he still has to play in the pre-qualifiers.
'I've had a few decent results, so I have a little money in the bank to pay for it,' he said. 'And some members from my home club (Australian Golf Club in Sydney) have helped out.'
It's a precarious existence for a player who doesn't have a car and is relying on rentals and Uber and rides from friends to get around. His caddie at the Monday qualifier at Hidden Valley C.C. was Tom Patterson, an Australian who plays for the University of Nevada - Reno.
Warren is friends with fellow Australian Matt Jones and looks up especially to Rory McIlroy, whose driving game and general comportment he admires.
Warren, too, is a long and generally straight driver of the ball, and if he has any regrets from his time at Hidden Valley, other than the whiffed tap-in, it's that he failed to birdie two par 5s despite having short irons in for his second shots. But really, the tap-in was the biggie.
'I'm still thinking about it because my phone is still blowing up about it,' he said before starting another practice round in another city, ever hopeful that his next competitive round might be the one in which he turns the corner. 'I'm just trying to put it in the past and play well this week.'