Matt Jones' 42-yard playoff chip-in wins Houston Open
AP April 8, 2014, 12:15 am TWN
HUMBLE, Texas -- Matt Jones told his caddy he was about to make a 42-yard chip-in on the first playoff hole at the Houston Open.
The Australian did just that on Sunday, earning his first PGA Tour win in spectacular fashion — and changing his immediate travel plans in the process.
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 Matt Kuchar.
He earned nearly US$1.2 million for the win, also making amends for a disastrous 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 who played collegiately at Arizona State.
"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 next week's Masters by sending him to the Tour Championship.
After briefly tying Kuchar in the middle of the round on Sunday, Jones' chances at redemption for last year appeared finished after he bogeyed the next-to-last hole in regulation. The setback left Jones at 14 under, two shots back of Kuchar.
However, Jones — in the first of his two memorable moments on the 18th — rolled in a 46-foot putt for birdie. 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 of regulation after sending his second shot into the water. That set the stage for the playoff in the soggy conditions at the Golf Club of Houston.
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.
It was the second straight miss of the 18th green from the fairway for Kuchar, who sent his fairway metal on the 72nd hole into the water before recovering to make bogey and reach the playoff.
Jones didn't leave Kuchar any room for error in the playoff, sending his chip over the greenside bunker and watching as it rolled in — causing a roar from the gallery and leaving Jones standing with his arm raised in celebration.
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