Date: November 28, 2015
Author: Mark Hayes

Jones on verge of history


Matt Jones confronts an awkward conundrum tomorrow.

If the Emirates Australian Open was a game show, the Sydneysider’s plight might well be spruiked by the host as “Stonehaven Cup or your anonymity”.

That’s Jones’ involuntary plight when the final round begins at his old home course, The Australian Golf Club, tomorrow in a pairing with Jordan Spieth.

Win and Jones, a three-shot leader, will have his name splashed across the world as the bloke who took down the world No.1.

More, his name will be etched on the Stonehaven Cup alongside the game’s greats he happily idolises – up to and including some of this week’s field.

But gone will be the veil of near secrecy under which he operates.

“It would be fantastic. It’s something I’ve thought about growing up, watching (Greg) Norman win it, watching Adam (Scott) win it, watching all the guys win it,” Jones said.

“I’ve been close before and tomorrow I’m going to give it everything I can to have my name on that trophy alongside the likes of (Jack) Nicklaus and all those guys – it would be amazing.”

None of which is to say that Jones, 35, is a bolt from the blue.

He’s been a fixture in the world’s top 100 players since the FedEx Cup playoffs of 2013 and has forged a quality, if not spectacular career on the US PGA Tour.

He touched as high 41st in the world rankings when he won the Houston Open on the eve of the 2014 Masters.

But therein lies another problem. That win remains the affable Texas-based Aussie’s only pro triumph, although Jones says not pushing too hard will help him rectify that apparent anomaly.

“I don’t try and make birdie every hole (no), just give myself chances,” he said.

“You don’t have to be aggressive, just leave the ball on the smart side of the green or just don’t make silly mistakes, which I’m prone to do. Every golfer’s definitely prone to do that and I’m going to have to manage that tomorrow.

“I know my golf game. I know I like to be aggressive and go at pins but … golfers think they can hit every shot perfect and that can often bring them undone.

Jones, runner-up to Geoff Ogilvy in his national Open in 2010 at nearby The Lakes, said before this week began that he felt comfortable and ready to contend.

Moreover, he said four rounds played in his own little world would hopefully be worthy of contention.

Well, he’s played three of them now – 67, 68 and 68 – despite trying conditions on occasion.

One more and he can kiss goodbye his anonymity.

Even if Spieth can somehow remotely replicate his spectacular closing 63 of last year, Jones can still determine the destination of the Cup he so covets.

“I’d be more than happy to do that to get my hands on that trophy to get my hands on my second trophy,” he said.

“My country’s Open would be amazing and hopefully I’m in here (the media centre) tomorrow afternoon with the trophy beside me having a drink out of it.”