Matt Jones an “edge of the seat” 2015 Australian Open victory

Matt Jones looks to the heavens after sinking a knee-trembler to win his national open
Matt Jones looks to the heavens after sinking a knee-trembler to win his national open

Story and photos by Brian O’Hare

IT’S hard winning an Australian Open, particularly when you have golfers like Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott breathing down your neck. Even more so when your play starts getting a little “sloppy”.

Probably not the way to do it is to begin bogie, double bogie just to put the extra pressure on yourself of seeing your three stroke overnight lead evaporate.

You fight back, as Matt Jones did at The Australian Golf Club in the final round of the 2015 edition of the event, with a couple of birdies but then on the 9th … disaster.

You put your tee shot left into a tree. The next shot into the dam guarding the green. The next one after your drop comes up way short … on a course you’ve played since you were a kid.

You walk off the green with a triple bogie seven on your card … just as Rod Pampling is showing how to do it with a course record 10-under 61.

Then on the 12th you put your tee shot into the trees again. Trying to get out you hit another tree and improve your position by about 12 foot.

You can see in the photo below that Matt Jones took a moment to collect himself. I thought for a moment he was going to snap his club across the back of his neck.

Matt Jones _club

The next shot went into a greenside bunker and things were looking decidedly rough. But that’s where everything changed.

Jones holed out from the bunker for the most unlikely of pars. Jordan Spieth later mentioned it as a big turning point.

Matt Jones holed out from the bunker shot on the 12th to turn his day around
Matt Jones holed out with this bunker shot on the 12th to turn his day around

 

On the last after birdies on 14 and 16  and his miraculous saves leaving no further dropped shots Jones had just a one stroke lead over Adam Scott, who had sizzled home with a 6-under 65, and two strokes over playing partner Spieth, who put his second shot on the green for a very makeable eagle chance.

Jones found a fairway bunker, laid up, then put his approach short. His first putt (you can  see his unlove for his putter at this point in the photo below) was about four foot short … exactly the sort of distance you don’t want to leave yourself in a tournament you’ve dreamed of winning since you were six.

Matt Jones _putter throw

 

Fortunately for all those willing him on, Spieth missed his eagle putt and Jones lipped his knee-trembler in.

Jones ended with a 2-over 73 to be 8-under for the tournament, beating joint runners-up Scott (65) and Spieth (71) by a single stroke. Rod Pampling was outright fourth with his course record 61 (beating the 63 set by Spieth in 2014) on 6-under.

“Terribly’s  a very  nice  word  after  what  I  put  on  today,” Jones said later at his media conference.

“But I got the job done as you said.  There was  a  lot  of  stress  and  a  lot  of  anxious moments out there, but came through with a  lip  in  putt  on  the  last  to  get  the  trophy, which was nice,” he said in a dramatic understatement.

Jones agreed he had left himself with the “worst Imaginable” length of putt on the last.

“It’s  not the most comfortable putt, I would have much preferred  to  leave  it  to  a  tap  in  or  gimmie distance,  but  I  was  expecting  Jordan  to make [his]. 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.”

The 35 year old was delighted to get his name on The Stonehaven Cup along with boyhood idol Greg Norman.

“It’s  amazing. 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   like, Nicklaus, 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 is well aware the last two Open winners – Spieth and Rory McIlroy – went on the following year to have spectacular, Major winning years.

(His win came with entry to the 2016 British Open at Royal Troon, along with Pampling and Nick Cullen.)

“Well, I’m in the British Open  so  hopefully  I  can  win  that one,” Jones said. “I’m not in any other Majors right now but look, it was a very stressful day for me.   It was a new experience for me. I had it at the PGA. I battled away today, which was fantastic, the way I did.  I could have let it slip and let it get away easily but I fought it out,  ground  it  out  and  that’s  something  I can  use  for  later  on  down  the  road  next year on tour.”

A stressful day at the office ended very, very well for Matt Jones
A stressful day at the office ended very, very well for Matt Jones

 

Spieth wasn’t happy with his own result but was  full of praise for friend and competitor Jones.

“I just told him, that was one of the  best  fought  wins  I’ve  ever  seen,” the two-time major winner said. “To come through  what  he  did  on  2,  9  and then  that  par he  made on 12.  Twelve was  by far the tipping point in the round.  I still had a chance after that, but that went from me being in the lead at least over Matt. We’re the  ones  who  had    the  most holes remaining  so  we  control it, and  for  him  to go back to whatever he was, 1 or 2 up on me  at  the  time  there,  was  really  kind  of  a game changer.

Ten for him,  after  [the triple bogie on] 9, that  was  an unbelievable  par  he  made  on  10  from  the bunker and then 12 were key moments.”

Spieth repeated his fondest for Australia and said he’d definitely  be back at some stage.

2016 Matt Jones Media Conference Video

 

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Brian is an award winning golf writer and is the founder and editor of Australian Senior Golfer. He is a former Sydney journalist who had little interest in golf till he hit his first ball at the age of 49 (and a half). Since then golf has just about overtaken his life. Brian founded ASG in April 2008 and has since covered every Australian Open, Presidents Cups, World Cups and numerous other big men’s and women’s tournaments, spending days inside the ropes with the likes of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Tom Watson, Fred Couples, Greg Norman, Adam Scott, Jason Day, Karrie Webb, and many others. He has also played in, and reported on, numerous amateur tournaments, particularly senior and veteran events, around the country. Brian is a member of the Australian Golf Media Association and won the award for Best News Report for 2016 - 2017

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