Matt Jones of Australia holed a pitch at the first extra hole to win a playoff for the Shell Houston Open in Texas, defeating the USA’s Matt Kuchar.

TAGS:

Matt Jones of Australia holed a pitch at the first extra hole to win a playoff for the Shell Houston Open in Texas, defeating the USA’s Matt Kuchar.

Jones started the final round six shots off Kuchar’s lead, but fired a superb closing 66 that was completed with a snaking birdie putt on the 72nd green. The victory was the Australian’s first on the PGA Tour and it has earned him his first start in The Masters.

“The win means everything to me right now because that’s what we play for is to win. To have Augusta as a reward for that win is amazing,” Jones said. “Going to Augusta is amazing.”

Jones drew level with Kuchar after a string of birdies in the middle of his final round, but his chances looked to have disappeared when he bogeyed the 17th to fall two shots behind with just one to play.

But the 33-year-old still had a trick up his sleeve. On the final hole he found the front of the green in two but was left with a tough putt of almost 50 feet. Displaying nerves of steel, he hit an aggressive putt that broke both ways before diving into the hole.

That saw Jones post a clubhouse total of 15-under-par with Kuchar in the middle of the 18th fairway, sitting at 16-under.

All Kuchar needed to do was par the last – easier said than done on one of the most difficult finishing holes on the PGA Tour. And so it proved for Kuchar as he pulled his approach into the water.

He did well to compose himself and get up and down from short of the green for a bogey five, to tie Jones on 15-under.

The pair returned to the 18th tee for sudden-death extra holes. Jones went first and found the right hand bunker before Kuchar played his drive into the fairway. Jones could only lay-up from the sand and then Kuchar played another poor approach, this time ending in the greenside bunker to the right of the putting surface.

On the way up the fairway, Jones told his caddy he was going to hole his 50-yard pitch and, when it hit the green and began tracking, it never looked anywhere else. The ball dropped and, when Kuchar failed to hole from the bunker, the title went to Jones.

Sergio Garcia needed a birdie at the home hole to force his way into the playoff, but he could only manage a bogey and so finished alone in third.

Rory McIlroy was the best placed Brit, ending the week in a tie for 7th place. His final round 65 should give him confidence going into next week’s U.S. Masters.

Shell Houston Open
Golf Club of Houston, Humble, Texas
Apr 3-6, purse $6,400,000, par 72

1    Matt Jones (Aus)        68    68    71    66    273    $1,152,000  
2    Matt Kuchar (USA)    66    67    68    72    273    $691,200
3    Sergio Garcia (Esp)    67    65    73    70    275    $435,200
4    Cameron Tringale (USA) 68    68    69    71    276    $307,200
5    Shawn Stefani (USA)    67    69    73    69    278    $256,000
6    Rickie Fowler (USA)    70    70    68    71    279    $230,400
T7    Brice Garnett (USA)    68    71    72    69    280    $186,240
T7    Retief Goosen (RSA)    68    71    71    70    280    $186,240
T7    Russell Henley (USA)    73    69    72    66    280    $186,240
T7    Rory McIlroy (NIR)    70    71    74    65    280    $186,240
T7    Ryan Palmer (USA)    70    68    73    69    280    $186,240

Note: Player score in bold signifies Titleist ball usage