‘No regrets’: Pro defends risky 72nd-hole decision that cost him $260,000

jt poston hitting in water at 3M open 72nd hole

J.T. Poston hit a water ball on the 72nd hole of the 3M Open that proved costly.

PGA Tour

The 72nd hole of the 3M Open was quite costly for J.T. Poston.

Poston, a two-time PGA Tour winner, arrived at the par-5 18th hole three strokes behind his playing partner Lee Hodges. With three strokes between himself and the leader, his chances of winning the event were slim — but that didn’t mean he wasn’t going to go down swinging.

After Hodges hit his ball into the left rough, Poston stepped to the tee and flared his ball to the right, inside the hazard line but still outside the water. With 220 yards to the hole, Poston opted not to lay up and instead took dead aim at the flag.

The shot never had a chance. With the ball below his feet, Poston’s shot came out low, failing to carry the hazard and bouncing off the rocks lining the shoreline.

With a three-stroke cushion between himself and the duo in third place, Poston could afford to drop a couple shots and still maintain his runner-up finish. But after the water ball, Poston committed a cardinal sin and followed one mistake with another.

After his drop, Poston laid up just inside 100 yards, needing to hit his wedge on the green and two-putt for a solo second finish. But his wedge approach came up short of the green. He then took three putts to get home, tapping in for a triple-bogey 8 that dropped him into a three-way tie for second.

With a solo second finish, Poston would have earned $850,000. But with the three-way tie for second, his earnings were reduced to $590,200 — still a tidy payday but a difference of nearly $260,000 from what he could have made.

Poston said he didn’t have any regrets about the final hole played out.

“At the end of the day it’s not the way I wanted to end, but I had to try and give it a shot and see if there was some way I could make 3 there at the end and put some pressure on Lee,” Poston said. “It was a shot that was going to be hard to pull off, but we weren’t playing for second place. I had to give it a shot.”

The T2 finish is Poston’s best on the PGA Tour this season, and his best finish since winning the John Deere Classic last summer.

“We were trying to do something special and try and win,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to be sleeping tonight wondering, ‘What if if I had just laid it up instead of trying to go for it.’ No regrets on the decision. You know, tried to do what we could to win.”

Zephyr Melton

Golf.com Editor

Zephyr Melton is an assistant editor for GOLF.com where he spends his days blogging, producing and editing. Prior to joining the team at GOLF, he attended the University of Texas followed by stops with the Texas Golf Association, Team USA, the Green Bay Packers and the PGA Tour. He assists on all things instruction and covers amateur and women’s golf. He can be reached at zephyr_melton@golf.com.