A life-changing 20-yard shot? This pro has one of the ‘sickest’ stories

J.T. Poston was “grinding” on his phone. That was not unlike what he had been doing on the golf course until the storm came.

It’s just about seven years later from that moment, and Poston is remembering his origin story. Many established pros have one — before it, they were just another hopeful, and thanks to it, they are where they are now, and in Poston’s case, he’s now a two-time PGA Tour winner. But oh, just listen how Poston got there. 

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It was late April of 2016, he was in southern Indiana, and he was playing the United Leasing Championship on the now-named Korn Ferry Tour. Poston was a star in college — six wins at Western Carolina — but he’d been struggling as a pro, though at the United Leasing, he had survived the gauntlet that is Monday qualifying, and he was now playing in his first tournament on the circuit right below the big boys. 

Then he shot a 68 to make the cut, and he shot a respectable third-round 72.

Then he was floating around the magical top-25 line, which puts you into the following week’s event. 

Then he was 20 yards out on his closing hole, the par-5 9th at Victoria National. 

Then the storm came. 

“I’m a couple under going into the last hole. Nine is a birdie hole — not many of them on Victoria National — it’s a par-5, reachable,” Poston said this week on GOLF’s Subpar podcast. “I hit a good drive, hit a second shot down there, just in front of the green, probably like a 20-yard chip, and they blew the horn for a thunderstorm. And so I knew — there’s not many leaderboards on the front nine, so I knew I was playing well enough to probably be close to that top 25 number, but I wasn’t exactly sure where I stood. 

“And the whole weather delay, I’m just kind of grinding on my phone, going over the scenarios — if I make birdie, where do I go, do I need to make this, and I think if I get it up and down, I would have gone to T25, but there was a guy behind me who was in the fairway, and he was at T25 and he makes birdie, he bumps me out. So I remember kind of going into it thinking, I probably need to make it, but I definitely need to get it up and down.”

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What did Poston do after the rain delay?

“It was probably an hour-and-a-half rain delay and came back out and everybody’s hitting balls and I just went and hit 20-yard chips for about 15 minutes,” Poston said on the podcast. 

And what did Poston do when he got back to 9?

“Sure enough, hooped it, made three,” he said on the podcast. 

And what came after that? Poston was on his way. He earned entry into the Rex Hospital Open the following week, and he finished third. At season’s end, he had earned his PGA Tour card. 

“That’s the sickest … that’s the sweetest thing,” Subpar co-host Drew Stoltz said. 

“Imagine if that doesn’t go in,” Subpar’s other co-host, Colt Knost, said.

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“People have asked me: Most clutch? Maybe. But it was definitely the biggest shot of my golf career, as far as changing kind of the direction and trajectory that I was going,” Poston said. “I would say there’s probably some other shots that felt more clutch to me, like in certain scenarios now. Because at the time, I was so naive — I knew I wanted to make it, I knew I wanted a top 25, but there’s no way I would have known I was going to go on the run that I did and what it would mean. 

“But yeah, looking back, it’s pretty wild.” 

“Imagine that same chip, lips out, hits something, hangs on the lip, whatever,” Stoltz said. “All right, the guy makes birdie behind you, 26th. Now you got to Monday the next week; that’s hard as s**t; maybe you don’t get in.”

“It was wild,” Poston said. “One of those scenarios, you get hot and you start playing well during those stretches of golf and luckily it lasted four, five months.” 

To listen to the entire podcast, please click below.

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