If you had asked Matt Jones his plans for next weekend Sunday morning, he would have told you that he was going home to spend the weekend with his 2-year-old and newborn baby. Scratch those plans after a memorable final round on Sunday at the Golf Club of Houston earning him a trip to the Masters.
Jones went into Sunday six strokes behind the leader but finished with a final round of 66 capping off the tournament at 15 under for the win. The 33-year-old who played his collegiate golf at Arizona State earned 1.2 million for finishing 1st and added his first PGA victory to his resume.
The man to beat on the day was Matt Kuchar, who led most of Sunday with a respectable performance. Jones tied Kuchar in the middle of the round but looked all but defeated after he bogeyed the 17th hole putting him at 14 under and one behind Kuchar. What happened next would make the ending 18th hole at Houston the best place in the world to be a golf fan on Sunday. Jones reached the difficult par-4 in two and sunk a 46-foot putt for birdie to finish at 15 under. Fast-forward to Matt Kuchar on 18, coming in at 16 under and he uncharacteristically put his second shot into the water that lines the entire left side of the hole; he would finish with a bogey to tie Jones at 15 under for a playoff.
Playoff-hole number one would prove to be a memorable one, being that Kuchar and Jones would have to play the 18th again. Kuchar laid in the green-side bunker after 2, while Jones was short of the bunker and 42-yards from the pin. Jones didn’t leave Kuchar a chance as he chipped the shot in for a dramatic birdie and the unlikely win after Kuchar couldn’t hole out from the hazard. “I walked up there and told my caddy I was going to chip it in,” said Jones after the Aussie’s first win. Kuchar was a class act in defeat, congratulating Jones and telling reporters how impressive the finish really was considering the difficulty of 2 birdies on the 18th.
With the Masters next weekend, notable performers at the Houston Open included Mickelson T12, McIlroy T7, Garcia 3rd, and Walker T24 (T = Tied). McIlroy finished his weekend with a tournament low round of 65.