Date: June 11, 2017
Author: Mark Hayes

Jones keeps up with leaders

A trio of back-nine birdies has Matt Jones on the verge of his best US PGA Tour finish in more than three years.

It appeared as though Sydneysider Jones, who leapt into contention in round one and then bravely clung on during the second round, might fall off the pace when he turned in one-over-par 36 in today's third round of the St Jude Classic.

But a series of great shots on the back nine at TPC Southwind in Memphis kept him right in the mix with a one-under 69 to leave him seven under and tied sixth, just two off the pace on a crammed leaderboard.

Rafa Cabrera Bello, Ben Crane and veteran Stewart Cink share the lead at nine under, but it appears as though any Aussie challenge to their lead must come from Jones.

Adam Scott fired a 71 to fall five back at four under, while New South Welshman Bret Drewitt fired a flat 72 to leave himself at two under and T37.

Jones couldn't find the love with his putter early, so took a different route to kickstart his round, almost holing a spectacular approach to the par-four 12th.

He then rolled in a 19-footer on the long par-three 14th for his second birdie and played a superb trap shot to within 50cm with his third to the par-five 16th to cap his rally.

Jones couldn't catch up on the 17th after blocking his drive right and the consequential bogey dropped him back from the leaders' heels.

But, as in the second round, it again proved the New South Welshman was up to the pressure of a leaderboard crush he hasn't felt in a while.

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 three projects him up 119th in the standings, so one more good round will make a world of difference to his season.