Date: February 24, 2009
Author: Luke Buttigieg, Sportal

Jones relishing Tiger match

Brendan Jones says taking on returning world No.1 Tiger Woods this week at the Accenture Match Play Championship is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity which he hopes to capitalise on with an upset victory. Jones&apos fellow Australians Peter O&aposMalley and Nick O&aposHern have both famously handed Woods first-round defeats in the 64-man field in the past, although it is also an event the American has won three times from four appearances in the final. And having only found out last week that he would firstly scrape in as the world&aposs 64th-ranked player and then had &aposchills&apos when he was told that Woods would return from an eight-month layoff following knee surgery, Jones can&apost wait to hit the first tee. “It&aposs a chance of a lifetime, really,” Jones said from the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club in Arizona on Monday afternoon (Tuesday morning in Australia). “I&aposm excited, I&aposm nervous, I&aposm just really, really happy to have made the 64 for a start.” “Then Tiger came out and said that he was going to play and I was overjoyed, really. The chance to play probably the best player of my generation anyway. (I&aposm) very, very excited to have that opportunity for one of the most-anticipated comebacks in any sport, really.” Jones also joked that his friends have suggested to him that he should test out the left knee that Woods had reconstructed last June after he had beaten Rocco Mediate in an 18-hole playoff to secure the US Open title. “They have been very nice to me, my friends, they have all said, &aposyou can beat him, you can beat him&apos,” he added. “Pretty much everybody has said, if things don&apost go your way, just take out his knee.” “I hope it doesn&apost have to get to that but even the people in Tucson, talking around the course here it&aposs, &aposjust knock his knee, see how it&aposs going&apos. Everybody&aposs been very encouraging, they all know it&aposs going to be a tough task.” As for the task at hand, the Japanese Tour-based professional believes that the fact that he&aposs Australian makes him competitive enough to have a chance of winning, even if he would &aposprobably put the house on Tiger&apos if he was betting on the clash. “Well I&aposm an Australian, so I got some sort of chance,” he said. “Obviously I know that I&aposm a long shot. I have got nothing to lose. I can just go out, be a lot more aggressive than what I normally would be.” “But I didn&apost fly all this way to try to lose. I&aposm here to try to beat him. And there&aposs been some funny things happen in sport. And I&aposm up against it, but I&aposm hoping that I&aposll put in a good effort.” Beaten by fellow Australian Adam Scott in the opening round of the tournament last year, when their gallery was limited to a few compatriots and &aposa few young girls watching Adam&apos, Jones admitted not having played since December could be a factor. “My preparation for this week hasn&apost been great. It&aposs the first tournament of the year and my next tournament after this is in another two months. So I&aposve had pretty much a week-and-a-half to get ready for it,” he added. Not in any hurry to leave the Japan Tour because it allows him to base his young family at home in Australia while he commutes back and forth, Jones is in no doubt how big it would be if he does defy the odds. “Oh, it would mean everything (to win),” he said. “I would have bragging rights with my friends back home. I know I&aposm up against it, I&aposm looking to go out and I think if I have the round of my life I&aposm going to win, you&aposve got to just take it as it comes.” “I&aposve been thinking if I could win the first and then hang on, that would be great, but I don&apost think that&aposs going to happen somehow. But, yeah, it will be a dream come true to actually play Tiger and win, but I&aposm not going to get too carried away just yet.” “There&aposs one person that gets to play Tiger in the first round and I think I&aposm very, very fortunate to do that. Plus it makes for a better story if I win.”