AUSTRALIA’S Matt Jones chipped in from 57 feet for a birdie on his final hole to share the lead with Bubba Watson after the first round of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans today.
“I pitched it perfectly,” Jones said. “It grabbed a little and just trickled in nicely.”
Jones finished with a 6-under 66 to be equal with Watson and a shot clear of fellow Aussie Nick O’Hern, who was in a six-way tie for third.
Jones had eight birdies and two bogeys. Playing the back nine first, he reeled off four consecutive birdies beginning at the par-4 16th. He followed with a 30-foot birdie putt on the 17th, an 11-footer on the 18th and a 20-foot putt on the first.
After missing the cut in four of his nine previous starts in 2011, Jones has put in a heap of work on the practice range recently with swing coach Gary Barter.
“My hands are pretty sore, actually, after all the work we’ve done,” Jones said. “So it’s coming slowly. Today we saw some positives out of what we’ve been doing.”
Watson and Jones played in the afternoon in better scoring conditions at the TPC Louisiana after a strong north wind made morning play more difficult.
“The guys set it up pretty well with the conditions that we had out there with the wind and everything,” Jones said. “The greens are perfect. And I played well. … I actually made a lot of putts today and chipped in on the last to finish the round, which is good.”
The in form O’Hern had five birdies in his bogey-free 67 to be tied with
Swede Carl Pettersson and Americans David Duval, Joe Durant, Tommy Gainey and John Rollins are alongside O’Hern.
Englishman Luke Donald has another chance to take the World No.1 spot and started well with a 68.