Date: June 10, 2017
Author: Mark Hayes

Jones’ fight keeps title chase alive

It wasn't perhaps Matt Jones' finest round, but the fight might well have been among his best in ages.

From almost 89% greens in regulation in his opening 65, Jones could only manage 50% today, but his scrambling shone in firing a one-under-par 69 to sit six under and just three from the halfway St.Jude Classic lead.

And on a day that was very much black and white for the seven-strong Australian contingent, both Adam Scott and Brett Drewitt went low on the TPC Southwind course in Memphis, Tennessee.

Scott added an equal day's best 64 to rocket from one over to T11 at five under, while New South Welshman Drewitt poured in seven birdies in a 65 that dragged him into T18 at four under.

It left all three well within reach of the leading trio at nine under – Chez Reavie, Sebastian Munoz and Charl Schwartzel.

Unfortunately, none of Cameron Percy (72-72), Stuart Appleby (72-73), Steve Bowditch (74-74) or Curtis Luck (72-77) – whose tournament came undone with a couple of water balls en route to a quintuple-bogey nine on the 12th – will be around for the chase after the cut was made at two over.

Sydneysider Jones, who began his round on the 10th, couldn't rediscover the first-round radar with his approach shots, but played some exquisite chips and clutch putts around several greens to maintain his challenge.

A superb up-and-down from rough 35m away from the pin on the 17th was arguably the best, giving Jones momentum for birdies on the fifth and sixth holes to stay in touch with Reavie and company.

It’s an important week for Jones, 37, whose last win on US soil came at the Houston Open in 2014.

His win at the following year’s Emirates Australian Open at his home course at The Australian catapulted him to the verge of the top 50 in the world rankings, but it’s since been a steady decline until a recent up-tick in form.

Jones missed the FedEx Cup playoffs last year by a spot at No.126, giving him reduced status this year. He’s currently ranked 137th after 12 events this year, but he has four top-25 finishes including a recent T13 at the Texas Open to help his confidence.

So tight is the race for spots at the bottom end of the all-important FedEx Cup standings that his sixth place after round two projects him up 118th in the standings, so two more good rounds will make a world of difference to his season.