Matt Jones won on TOUR for the first time in 156 events Sunday as he defeated American Matt Kuchar on the first hole of sudden death at the Shell Houston Open in Humble, Texas. Jones, who began the day six shots behind 54-hole leader Kuchar, was seven shots back after his birdie on No. 1. He rallied to roll in eight birdies, including one from 46’ on No. 18 to bounce back from a bogey on No. 17 to take the clubhouse lead on 15-under-par 273. After Kuchar made bogey on No. 18, the playoff was on. Spaniard Sergio Garcia keeps up his impressive play rounding out the podium in solo third two further shots back.
For the third time in the last four weeks, the folks from Down Under have gone under par the most as Australian Matt Jones defeated American Matt Kuchar on the first hole of sudden death Sunday. Last week, Steven Bowditch, ranked No. 339 in the world, won his first event on TOUR and this week it’s the No. 90 player in the world. Jones needed 155 events to break his maiden and boy did he do so in style. First, it took a 46’ on the final hole of regulation to give him any chance. Swish. The playoff was necessary after Kuchar rinsed his second from the middle of the 18th fairway and made bogey. Seven shot lead gone. Jones’ tee shot found the right fairway bunker and he elected to play short and right of the green, taking the water out of play. Kuchar piped his drive but for the second time this afternoon his second went wanting as it splashed down in the front right greenside bunker. After Jones chipped in, Kuchar’s bunker shot came up well short. For the second week in a row an Aussie longshot broke his maiden and sadly, for gamers, Kuchar couldn’t close the deal.
Matt Jones co-led the field with 22 birdies and only made four bogeys on the week that changes his life forever. Sure he made a triple on Saturday but four birdies helped ease that pain heading into Sunday. Being six shots behind a player who has won six times on TOUR wasn’t the ideal scenario he envisioned but eight Sunday birdies gave him a chance. He took complete advantage of his opportunity by making one more birdie on the playoff.
Jones tempted gamers heading into this season because his 2013 numbers were so very solid across the board. Last season, his best ever on TOUR of six, he was 13th in the all-around category and looked poised to break out as he racked up five top 10s and T2 at Greenbrier, his best finish ever on TOUR. He saw the weekend in 18 of 24 events and made over $1.7 million as he found the top 25 in half of those weekends. For season-long salary gamers, the payoff is today but it was a bumpy start to get here in 2013-14. Jones had zero top 10s and only three top 25s in his first 11 events of the season. That all changed today!
Moving forward, Jones has to find a TON of Masters tickets now because he’s in the field! After Day, Senden, Bowditch and now Jones, either Marc Leishman or Adam Scott will now probably win the Masters! Jones, who had never won on the Web.com Tour either, only had one second and one third in six-plus years on TOUR. That’s not a rate of return that shouts unwavering support moving forward but I’ll be curious to see how moves forward from here. Remember, this was a guy a few years ago who cut in 15 of 25 events. His best start in five previous SHO was T38 last year. He missed four other cuts and had one round in the 60s. He had three of four this week! Proceed with caution!
With his victory, Jones collects $1,152,000 and 500 FedExCup Points.
Déjà vu All Over Again?
After winning 31 of 40 tournaments in 2013, the USA has now won the first 17 of 21 events of 2013-14. Harris English, Jimmy Walker (THREE), Webb Simpson, Ryan Moore, Dustin Johnson, Chris Kirk, Zach Johnson, Patrick Reed (TWO), Scott Stallings, Kevin Stadler, Bubba Watson, Russell Henley, Chesson Hadley and Matt Every have collected the hardware this year flying the US flag. Matt Jones now joins Steven Bowditch, John Senden and Jason Day as only Australia is representing the rest of the world with the other four victories. Is there any Fosters left then?
Matt Jones joins Steven Bowditch, Matt Every, Jimmy Walker, Kevin Stadler and Chesson Hadley as the first-time winners this season. There were 12, first-timers in 40 events last year and we’ve had six in 21 events so far in 2014, including three in a row!
Only 17 of the 38, 54-hole leaders went on to win last year in full-field, stroke play events. I’m always trying to figure out if this is a trend or not. In 2013-14 10 of 20 leaders have gone on to win on Sunday. Matt Kuchar began the day four shots ahead of Sergio Garcia and Cameron Tringale.
He joins countryman Stuart Appleby as Aussies that have won at the Golf Club of Houston.
He’s the third player in the last seven years to win for the first time on TOUR at the SHO.
Entering this week, he had three rounds from 10 that were under par here, including one in the 60s.
No player has defended their title as last year’s champ, D.A. Points, fired 71-74 to MC.
The average winning score here has been 16-under. Jones and Kuchar entered the playoff on 15-under. #normalservice
Jones had the second-lowest round of the week with 66. That’s always a very nice score, especially on Sunday. The low round of the week was 65 shared by five players.
Young Guns Versus Prime Time Versus Old Guys
Jimmy Walker (34) started the season out on the right foot for the Prime Time guys and has since added two more wins to lead the FedExCup standings. He has been joined by Ryan Moore (30) in Malaysia, Zach Johnson (37) at Kapalua, Kevin Stadler (33), at WMPO and Bubba Watson (35), joined them at Riviera. The last three weeks have found first-time winners and they have all been in their 30s. Matt Every (30), Steven Bowditch (30) and Matt Jones (33) are the newest members of the club. The Prime Timers now have the lead in victories with 10.
Scott Stallings (28), Patrick Reed TWICE (23), Chris Kirk (28), Webb Simpson (28), Dustin Johnson (29), Harris English (24), Jason Day (26) and Russell Henley (24) are the twenty-somethings on the board.
The Old Guys fired this week with a T7 from 45-year-old Retief Goosen and John Senden is their only winner this year.