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Jones pitches in to secure final Masters spot

By: | Mon 07 Apr 2014 | Comments

Post by Sports Writer Derek Clements

Matt Jones holed a chip at the first playoff hole to win the Houston Open at Humble, Texas, securing the final spot for this week's Masters at Augusta - after telling his caddy he was going to do it.

Jones becomes the latest Australian, following John Senden and Steven Bowditch, to win on tour this season, but boy did he do it the hard way. With Matt Kuchar starting the day with a four-shot lead, it would have taken a brave man to bet against the American but, for a second successive week, he went backwards in a hurry.
Jones, who began the day six shots off the lead, shot a final-round 66 and ended the tournament 15 under to earn his first trip to The Masters with the dramatic win over  Kuchar.



He earned nearly $1.2m for the win, along with a two-year exemption that will keep him on the PGA Tour until the end of 2016, as well as making up for a missed putt last September that appeared destined to keep him from playing at Augusta National.

Destiny, however, had other plans for the 33-year-old.  “Going to Augusta is amazing,” Jones said. “The win means everything to me right now because that’s what we play for is to win. To have Augusta as a reward for that win is amazing.”

In September, Jones lipped out an 8-foot birdie putt on the last hole of the BMW Championship -  a putt that would have earned him a trip to Augusta National by sending him to the Tour Championship.
After briefly drawing level with Kuchar in the middle of the round, Jones’ chances appeared to be over after he bogeyed the 17th hole to leave him at 14 under, two behind Kuchar. 

However, Jones rolled in a 45-foot putt for birdie at the 18th. That pulled the Australian within one shot of Kuchar, who was watching his closest challenger from the tee.

I was going to three-putt before I left it short,” Jones said. “I didn’t care about finishing second or third or fourth; it didn’t matter. I was only trying to get the win.” Kuchar went on to bogey the final hole after sending his second shot into the water. That set the stage for the playoff.

Jones sent his tee shot on the first hole of the playoff into the right fairway bunker. He then landed just short of the greenside bunker with his second shot, while Kuchar found the bunker from the fairway.

The Australian struck his chip over the greenside bunker and raised his arm in triumph  as it rolled in.  “I walked up there and told my caddy I was going to chip it in,” Jones said. “You don’t know if it’s going to lip out, low or high, but when I saw it disappear it’s probably the happiest I’ve been on the golf course.” Jones is the second straight Australian to win on the PGA Tour, following Bowditch’s win at the Texas Open last week.

It was in San Antonio that Kuchar struggled to a final-round 75 while playing in the final pairing with Bowditch. The American began with a four-shot lead over Sergio Garcia and Cameron Tringale, but he bogeyed the first hole on his way to a disappointing even-par 72 and bitter ending.

“It was fantastic stuff by Jones to birdie 18 twice,” Kuchar said. “That’s probably the hardest hole on the golf course, and for him to put two 3s is pretty impressive stuff.” Golfers were sent off in threesomes early Sufor the second day in a row because of the threat of strong storms in the Houston area. The rain, heavy at times, began early during the final pairing’s round, but the pros finished without any delays.

  “I was going home to play with my 2-year-old and 3-week-old,” Jones said. “So, bit of a change now that I think they’ll be on a plane to Augusta as well. We’ve got to find a house.” Garcia finished in third at 13 under, while Tringale was fourth at 12 under.

Rory McIlroy matched the low round of the tournament with a 7-under 65 on Sunday, finishing tied for seventh at eight under overall and will head to Augusta in good heart.

Phil Mickelson, who won the tournament withdrawing from the Texas Open because of a muscle pull in his right side.

Matt Jones holed a chip at the first playoff hole to win the Houston Open at Humble, Texas, securing the final spot for this week's Masters at Augusta - after telling his caddy he was going to do it.

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Tags: PGA Tour Matt Kuchar

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