Date: April 07, 2014
Author: Luke Sheehan, Omnisport

Jones pips Kuchar to Houston Open title

Australia&aposs Matt Jones has booked an 11th-hour ticket to Augusta, winning the Houston Open in thrilling fashion on Sunday.

Jones reeled in Matt Kuchar at the Golf Club of Houston, as he sunk a 46-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole to finish with a final-round six-under 66.

The brilliant finish, though, was likely to be in vain, as Kuchar just needed par on 18 to claim outright victory, but the American stumbled.

Kuchar found water with his approach shot before getting up-and-down to make bogey and force a play-off.

But Jones had yet another piece of brilliance up his sleeve, as he chipped in from 42 yards to make another remarkable birdie on the first play-off hole.

And when Kuchar could not do likewise, the US$1.1million-plus winners' cheque was in the pocket of the 33-year-old Sydney native.

It was Jones' first PGA Tour victory, and his timing could not have been better – as he now joins six of his countrymen at Augusta on Thursday for his Masters debut.

Kuchar finished his week with an even-par 72, and despite only going down via a play-off, the world number 11 will feel aggrieved he did not bag the title in Texas.

Two shots back from Jones and Kuchar was Spain's Sergio Garcia in outright third on 13 under, while Americans Cameron Tringale and Shawn Stefani rounded out the top five.

Tringale ended his week on 12 under, while Stefani was two strokes further back.

Rickie Fowler was outright sixth on nine under, one shot clear of a quintet including Northern ireland's Rory McIlroy.

McIlroy fired an ominous warning shot ahead of the Masters, as he shot a seven-under 65 in his final round to rocket up the leaderboard.

Among those tied on eight under, Russell Henley also impressed as he carded a six-under 66 to share seventh place.

Joining McIlroy and Henley were Americans Brice Garnett and Ryan Palmer, and South Africa's Retief Goosen.

Three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson finished the week in a tie for 12th on seven-under overall.

Other big names further down the leaderboard included England's Lee Westwood (tied 17th) and Luke Donald (tied 24th), South Africa's Charl Schwartzel (tied 19th) and American Keegan Bradley (tied 43rd).