HOME town hero Matt Jones held off current and former world number ones on the way to securing the 2015 Australian Open on Sunday.
Jones, a 35-year-old seasoned pro on the PGA Tour, needed to make a 3-foot putt on the last hole to hold off current world No.1 Jordan Spieth and former world No.1 Adam Scott.
The 2014 Shell Houston Open winner held a three-shot advantage to begin the day, but playing with the world’s best golfer usually puts players in their place, and Jones was no different in his opening nine holes. Jones started the day with bogeys, double-bogeys and even a triple bogey, which took his lead from three down to a tie with Scott and Pampling.
Jones, who entered the final round as a $1.85 favourite at CrownBet.com.au, was able to put his early troubles behind him and scored a one-shot victory over Adam Scott and Jordan Spieth, with the latter needing to hole an eagle putt on the 18th to force a playoff or win outright. The putt missed and Jones stepped up to the mark by holing a mid-range putt, albeit in the left edge of the hole.
“Playing this golf course, the front nine is the tough nine for me,” Jones said.
“I knew, getting to the back nine with a chance I would… that’s all I wanted to do was get to the back nine with a chance because I know I can birdie some holes out on the back nine, so I was lucky enough to do that.
“It’s not the most comfortable putt,” Jones said about his final putt on 18.
“I would’ve much preferred to leave it to a tap-in or gimmie distance, but I was expecting Jordan to make that. I’ve played enough rounds of golf with him where he makes those putts. He didn’t putt well today. I thought he was due to make one and he didn’t. I was just lucky it caught the left lip and went in. I thought I’d missed it left but one of those things… it just went in and I was very, very happy.”
Jones led from wire-to-wire to finish the tournament at 8-under with Scott and Spieth one back at 7-under. The round of the day went to Rod Pampling, who recorded a 10-under 61 to finish the Australian Open in fourth position.
Following his win, Jones told the media of his golfing idol, Australia’s greatest golfer, Greg Norman. Jones’ name is now next to the Great White Shark’s on the Australian Open championship list.
“It’s amazing,” Jones said.
“It’s something I would have thought about from when I was six when I first met him. I tried not to think about it this week because I knew, as you saw today, anything can happen on a golf course. You can be one swing away from doing what I did and having no chance to win.
“To have my name on this trophy with [Jack] Nicklaus, [Jack] Newton, Norman, all those guys, it’s a dream come true for me and it’s something that I can’t have taken away from me.”
Jones will now head to the third and final major Australian tournament of the year this Thursday – the Australian PGA which holds the biggest prize purse of all three Australian tournaments.
The Australian PGA Championship will be held this week at the Royal Pines Resort on the Gold Coast where the likes of Australian Masters winner Peter Senior and Sweden’s David Lingmerth will be among the highlighted players in the field.
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