JONESVILLE — Payne Jones won the 10th annual Shannon Evans Invitational at Cedar Hill Country Club on Sunday, but it might be more accurate to say he survived it.
Jones fought through foul weather, lost his swing during an hourlong weather delay and held off a trio of challengers to card a final-round 73 and win the championship flight.
His two-day total of 1-under 141 was good enough to earn him a two-shot victory, Jones’ first at the event after finishing in the top three seven times over the years.
Jones had played six holes before a deluge sent the players scrambling to the clubhouse. By the time he returned to the course, Jones had lost his mojo.
“I hadn’t missed a shot for six holes,” he said. “When I went back out there, I felt like a different person. It’s like I had a different swing.”
Jones promptly bogeyed the seventh and ninth holes before finding his way into more trouble on the par-5 10th.
After hitting his drive left of the fairway, Jones knocked an iron into a hazard short of the green. He was forced to chip out and needed to get up and down from 30 yards out to save par.
What happened next may have decided the championship. Jones chipped his ball within 6 inches of the cup to salvage a par.
When nobody else in his group could make a birdie, Jones walked off the green with a fresh approach.
“From that point on, when nobody birdied 10, I started playing the golf course different,” he said. “Nobody was putting any pressure on me, so I was going to make them beat me.”
Jones’ conservative strategy kept him ahead of the other three players in the final group, but he couldn’t help wondering whether his slow and steady approach would be enough to win the race.
“Nobody got it going, so I wasn’t as worried about the group with me as I was about somebody ahead of us (going low),” Jones said.
Sure enough, Zack Breedlove was in the process of doing just that. Breedlove birdied the 14th and 15th holes before scoring a hole-in-one on the par-3 16th.
With another birdie on No. 17, Breedlove shot a 32 on the back nine to card a 5-under 66, the lowest round of the day.
Like Breedlove, Carlson Cox also came home with a two-day total of 143. While the two shared the clubhouse lead, Craig Reasor stepped to the 18th tee within one shot of Jones.
But Reasor, making his return after a two-year absence from tournament play, hit his drive into the tall grass on 18. He was forced to take a drop and finished with a bogey.
“It was such a bad lie,” Reasor said. “I was praying, ‘Lord, what should I do with it?’ I asked myself if I’d practiced that shot, and I hadn’t, so I took the drop.”
Reasor’s final-round 73 left him in a three-way tie for second with Breedlove and Cox, clearing the stage for Jones to knock in his par putt for the win.
In the senior championship flight, Wayne Hounshell carded a 67 to earn the victory. After trailing by three shots after the first round, Hounshell’s total of 141 gave him a seven-shot victory over Alan Blanken, Junior Miller and Barry Audia, who tied for second.