Paying credit to a combination of impending fatherhood and giving up on practising, Brendan Jones continued his run of good form this year to move into the top 15 after a second consecutive even-par round of 70 at the UBS Japan Golf Tour Championship outside Tokyo. The 32-year-old Jones, whose first child is due in three weeks time, has enhanced a more relaxed approach with a unique policy of not practising this year as he seeks to further build on his impressive resume in Japan. The unusual tactic has paid dividends with top-15 finishes in all seven events he has played this year, including a win in April s Tsuruya Open. The fact that I am having a child in about a month means I have found there is more to life than golf and I have been a lot more relaxed. I am ready to be a dad and I am a lot happier, he said. I have not done any practice either. Over the years, I have had to force myself to practice and this year I am playing great and I am not doing any practice. Until the time comes when I am really struggling, just staying fresh is the key to playing good golf. With only 11 players remaining under par after a humid and rainy day, Jones, on an aggregate of even-par 140, trails Frankie Minoza of the Philippines and Japan s Toru Taniguchi by four shots. The duo have a one shot lead over a group of four players Japan s Toshinori Muto, Kaname Yokoo and Shingo Katayama and overnight leader Naoya Takemoto, who stumbled with a 74 after his seven-under 63. For Jones, it was his new and novel approach that saw the six-time Japan Tour winner rally from a mid-round stumble today. I had a bit of bad patch in the middle of the round, where I went bogey-double bogey-par-bogey, but apart from that I have had a pretty fair last couple of days. The rain had just started which made it tough, but I nearly holed in one on 13 when I hit it to one foot and then I hit it to two feet on 14. I didn t make any putts out there really. The birdies I made were tap-ins and I just made a couple of bad swings. Expanding on his new game plan, he said: I don t hit practice balls. I hit balls to warm up, but I do not go hitting them for hours on end. When I am struggling with a certain part of my game, I do a bit of work, but I am happy with my game and I haven t finished out of the top 15 all year. Until I see my game slipping, I am happy to stay fresh. I have found a good medium now. I would be in the minority that doesn’t practice and people will think oh my god , but everybody is different. I like the way I am going and I am there or thereabouts in each week. I am just going out and playing. Meanwhile, Scott Laycock, the leader of the six-man Australian contingent overnight, felt the wrath of Shishido Hills when he fell to a round of seven-over-par 77 on day two to fall back to a total of five-over 145. Laycock, known as Ray by his Japanese fans, had a simple explanation. I just didn t drive it very well. I didn t hit the fairways and you are always going to struggle here if you do that. Tomorrow, I just have to hit the fairways. I am a good enough iron player that when I get it on the fairways, it gives me a chance. The Australian representation at the event will be down to two tomorrow, after four of Jones and Laycock s compatriots missed the cut, which came at six-over 146. Craig Parry and Steve Conran were two shots shy, while Chris Campbell missed comfortably. Wayne Perske, who suffered the recurrence of a bulging disk in his back, was forced to withdraw after nine holes. Among the other casualties were defending champion Tatsuhiko Takahashi (seven-over) and Jumbo Ozaki (nine-over). The UBS Japan Golf Tour Championship is being played over the par-70, 7,214-yard West Course at Shishido Hills Country Club, located about 100 kilometres northeast of Tokyo, and offers a prize purse of 150 million Yen (about AUD$1.5 million).
Author: Damien McDowell