Date: February 01, 2018
Author: Brad Green

Jones hopes for rewarding homecoming


Victorian Steve Jones hopes a change in his preparation and mental approach will pay dividends when he tees up in `home’ territory for this week’s Oates Vic Open at 13th Beach.

Jones, who has lived in Queensland since 2011 after turning professional in 2006, grew up playing golf in the Geelong region and will again have plenty of familiar faces following his fortunes of his home state open.

In the final round five years ago, when the Vic Open was first played at the Barwon Heads lay-out, the big-hitting Jones stood on the 16th tee tied for the lead and dared to dream.

But a double bogey dashed his hopes and he ultimately finished tied for sixth, three shots behind Matthew Giles.

While he’s failed to make the cut in his last four Vic Open appearances, Jones said he’s focused a lot of his preparation this year on how he can post a competitive score around the Creek course.

Last year he started brightly with a four-under par 68 around the Beach course before a five-over 77 on the Creek the following day saw him miss the cut.

“I feel like the Creek course suits my game well but for whatever reason there’s been a few holes that I haven’t played that well in the past,” Jones, who finished 13th on the 2012 Australasian Tour Order of Merit, said.

“So I’ve looked at my strategy how I play those holes, which ones I can attack and which ones I know where par is a good score. I’ve been down in Victoria the last few weeks playing some Pro-Ams to see where my game is at and I’ve got in a couple of practice rounds around 13th Beach.

“I’ve been working mentally to stay in the moment a bit more and not get ahead of myself.

“I’m hitting the ball well at the moment.”

Jones will have an early chance to put his new strategy to the test, beginning his Vic Open campaign off the Creek course’s first tee at 11.50am in the opening round alongside Norwegian Anders Kristiansen, the 2008 Australian Amateur champion, and Queenslander Anthony Quale.

Jones, who turns 33 on Sunday, is back playing full-time on the Australasian PGA Tour in 2018 after securing his card via Qualifying School.

He’s only played 16 tournaments in the last three years for family reasons.

“I’ve never lost the passion to play and be competing in these tournaments and I know that I can shoot low,” Jones declared.

“I’ve got to hang in there when it’s not going well and I have faith in myself that I’ve still got better days ahead of me.

“This tournament means a lot to me.”