Matt Jones, Australian model 2015, is a vastly superior unit to last year’s.
He handles better in the wind, he has a newly added hiccup damage avoidance system and a local range finder borne of years of precision engineering.
And, critically, his tank is full.
Jones said on the eve of the Emirates Australian Open that he was in a far different mindset and, subsequently, had far greater expectations than in 2014.
And today, in the teeth of a wind that swept around his old home course from all corners of the compass, he showed why that was totally justified.
The 35-year-old carved out a quality 67 with just one bogey as many around him paid heavy prices for misjudging a wind that cruelled those who couldn’t find their rhythm.
“I hit it well from the first tee to the last. I shot four under, but it could have been better,” Jones said.
“I hit a lot of good iron shots and a lot of good birdie putts out there, but I was very happy with how I played and if I have three more days like that it will be a good finish.”
The Sydneysider, on his home course at The Australian, comes home to an increasing fanfare each year as his results seemingly improve annually on the US PGA Tour.
But last year, with rounds of 76 and 72, he missed the cut and felt as if he hadn’t given himself his best chance.
Using that wisdom, and the confidence garnered from being safely ensconced on the US PGA Tour, Jones said he has begun to pick and choose his schedule with the twin aims of a better life balance and coming to tournaments full of beans.
“I think it shows this year, I had a good end to the (US PGA Tour) season (and) played better when it counted because I was fresher,” Jones said.
“In recent years I’ve been exhausted by the time we’ve got to the FedEx Cup playoffs, so this year was great and it’s showing me what I have to do in the future.
“(That success) means it allows me to plan a schedule that means I can play tournaments more rested.
“At my age and stage of career, I have learnt that I don’t have to play every week.
“It’s better for me to play fresh and finish with a top 10 than play all the time and grind away to finish with two 50th (places), for example.
“Grinding away just doesn’t suit my game, I’ve discovered – I have to hit it fresh.”
Jones was superb today, making just one bogey against five birdies, including an 7m special on the last to warm applause.
In the marquee group with fellow US Tour winners Rob Allenby and Marc Leishman, he was the standout as high winds played havoc.
“I’ve played here a lot, being a member, so maybe I’ve got a little more local knowledge of the wind,” Jones confessed.
“But I enjoy playing in wind most of the time, so I play well in it.“If I have good control of my ball, my trajectory, my ball flight, the wind doesn’t affect it as much, so if you’re striking it well, the wind’s not going to affect it as much as it sometimes does.”