MATT JONES reckoned he felt “unbelievably calm” all week at the 2019 Australian Open on the way to his second Stonehaven Cup but spectators were certainly nervous when his final hole almost went incredibly awry.
On his 17th hole with only Louis Oosthuizen left as a credible threat, the 39 year old Aussie seemed to put the win in the bag with a long range birdie bomb that took him back out to a three stroke lead over the smooth swinging South African.
At about the time Jones was teeing off the 18th, Oosthuizen was approaching the par five green up ahead and eyeing off an unlikely eagle putt.
Jones heard the roar when Oostuizen holed out to shrink the lead to one but there was a misunderstanding of a quick conversation walking up the fairway and the Aussie thought the South African had finished with a par.
Jones thought he only needed a very conservative six to win and almost managed to rack that figure up when he played a simple layup wedge shot out of a fairway bunker and hit a pine cone on a tree branch. His ball dropped straight down into the wood chips – putting all the water to the right of the green well in play.
Jones said later he was thinking of playing really conservative and aiming for a greenside bunker for his third shot but was glad he didn’t. He was clearly anxious when he hit that third shot and came up short of the green.
His subsequent chip shot went about four and a half feet beyond the hole – for a knee jerker to win by a single stroke. That was exactly the same scenario he faced when he won his first national championship in 2015.
The big crowd packed around the 18th hole at The Australian Golf Club had their hearts in mouth – and certainly weren’t “unbelievably calm” as Jones, who was a junior member at the club, sunk the putt to become the 19th player to win twice in the 104 year history of the Championship.
“I was very calm all week, actually,” Jones told the media after his win. ” I was much more nervous in ’15 when I won. I was very relaxed and calm this week, all week and today I was unbelievably calm. I purpose myself in a couple of awkward situations, but my short game, which I do rely on a lot, saved me and I was able to get it done.”
But he did admit to feeling some pressure on 18.
“I was under an assumption that Louis was on a different score, so I kind of let my guard down and relaxed a little, and then when I saw what the score was, that chip became a little tougher, but I was able to get up and down.”
Jones, who grew up in Sydney but now lives in the US with his wife and three daughters was more than chuffed to have his name for a second time on a trophy that contains many of golfs greats
“It’s fantastic,” he said. “I’ve had a good start to the year in the US. Something like this has been coming and it’s very special when it’s your national Open and to do it two times in a row is something that’s pretty unbelievable right now. But I’m going to build on this. If I can play as calm on the US Tour as I did these four days, I think I’ll have a very good year.”
“…. it’s a great honour to be able to put my name on that trophy with all those champions and there are multiple Major champions on there. To be on the trophy with Jack and Gary and Greg and Adam, Rory, Jordan; to be able to do it twice is very special and something that I’ll be able to look back on later in life and be very proud of.”
The win also saw Jones one of the three places up for grabs at the 2020 Open Championship, along with fellow Aussie AaronPike and Japanese amateur Takumi Kanaya.