Chip-in has Jones Augusta dreaming

Australia's Matt Jones chips-in on the first play-off hole in Houston to qualify for the US Masters. Picture: GETTY IMAGES
Australia's Matt Jones chips-in on the first play-off hole in Houston to qualify for the US Masters. Picture: GETTY IMAGES


Late last year Matt Jones let a golden opportunity to secure a Masters debut slip though his fingers.

On Sunday, the 33-year-old from Sydney produced two of the greatest shots of his life to claim the very last spot in the field for this week's Masters at Augusta National with victory at the Houston Open.

Jones secured his first US PGA Tour win by chipping in for a birdie from 30 metres in a sudden-death play-off against American Matt Kuchar, extending the golden run by Australians who have won four of the last eight - and three of the last four - tournaments.

Earlier, he had fired a six-under-par 66 final round at the Golf Club of Houston, highlighted by rolling in a 46-foot birdie putt on the last that got him into the play-off.

It was a stunning turnaround after an opening hole bogey had him seven shots adrift of Kuchar's lead.

"It was an amazing shot," said Jones, of his 54-degree sand wedge chip to win.

"I walked up there and told my caddy I was going to chip it in, and from my angle it's hard to tell if it's going to go in or not.

"When I saw it disappear, it's probably the happiest I've been on the golf course."

Jones takes Australia's once paltry representation at the Masters to seven, joining defending champion Adam Scott, Jason Day, Marc Leishman and fellow later qualifiers Steve Bowditch and John Senden, plus amateur Oliver Goss.

Jones, like last week's winner Bowditch, has never played at Augusta National and was scrambling to change his travel plans after securing his breakthrough win in his 156th US tour start.

Instead of heading to his home base in Scottsdale, Arizona to be with his two-year-old and new three-week-old baby, Jones is headed to the season's first major, having also earned a two-year exemption on the tour and a $1.24 million winner's cheque.

During last year's US tour play-offs, Jones had a 10-foot putt on the last hole on Sunday to get into the Tour Championship and - as a consequence - the Masters, but lipped it out.

He didn't spurn his final chance this year.

"The win means everything to me right now because that's what we play for is to win, and to have Augusta as a reward for that win is amazing."

The Houston Open has been good to golfers from Down Under.

Jones is the seventh Australian to win the event, joining Bruce Devlin (1972), Bruce Crampton (1973, 1975), David Graham (1983), Stuart Appleby (1999, 2006), Robert Allenby (2000) and Adam Scott (2007) as career champions. AAP


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