Date: April 07, 2014
Author: Martin Blake /

Jones books ticket to Augusta

Matt Jones is going to Augusta National. And what a way to get there. Jones, the 33-year-old Sydneysider who has spent seven years out on the PGA Tour of the United States without fanfare, emerged in the most fantastic way today with a victory in the Houston Open that puts him straight in the field for this week&aposs Masters. The Australian wrote his own script. Starting the final day six shots adrift of leader Matt Kucher, Jones buried a 15-metre putt for birdie at the last hole for a 66, posting a 15-under-par total and waited for the American to complete his round in heavy rain. Kucher led by a shot as he stood on the 18th tee and drove down the fairway. But the world No. 11 swiped his approach from 200 metres hard left, and he cursed himself: “It&aposs in the water. Goll-leee!&apos&apos Kuchar took bogey so that they would head back down the 18th for a playoff. Then in the playoff Jones found trouble, driving into a fairway trap while Kuchar was on short grass. The Australian laid up just short and right, while Kuchar found the greenside trap. Then the thunder clap. Jones&apos pitch was just short of 40 metres with a big right-to-left swing. He hit it perfectly, checking up when it found the cut surface and hammering into the hole, reprising Larry Mize&aposs incredible chip at Augusta nearly 30 years ago to beat Greg Norman. Kuchar, who has frittered away consecutive tournaments, could not manage to hole his bunker shot and the title belonged to Jones. “I&aposve been working hard on my putting and chipping with my coach and as soon as that came out, it was exactly where I wanted it to (be),&apos&apos Jones said of his chip. “I actually told my caddie coming up here I would actually chip it in, so it was nice to do it.” It was the fourth Australian victory of the season and we are only to April. Jones, Steven Bowditch and John Senden have won three of the past four tournaments, while Jason Day won the World Golf Championship matchplay in February. The Australian portion of the field at Augusta National this week now has swelled to seven — Adam Scott, Jason Day, Marc Leishman, Senden, Bowditch, Jones and Oliver Goss, the Western Australian amateur. Many in the golf industry will be thrilled for the popular Jones, based in Scottsdale, who graduated to the main tour by finishing seventh on the secondary tour in America in 2007. He has not previously won a tournament as a professional, either overseas or at home. His best performance at home was at the 2010 Emirates Australian Open when he was tied-second behind Geoff Ogilvy. Now his world ranking is at 40th, putting him into the fields for the majors and World Golf Championship events, and he has a two-year exemption to play on the PGA Tour. First, though, there is Augusta. He has never played the Masters; in fact he has only played two majors. Jones had better get to packing. “I have a lot of tickets to go and buy right now for a lot of family back in Australia and friends in Scottsdale, so I&aposve got a lot of changes and a lot of things to go and do now.&apos&apos