It was magic for the second time on Sunday on the same hole for Jones.
The 33-year-old Australian rolled in a 46-footer for birdie on the 18th in regulation to fire a six-under 66, 15-under total — which was good enough to get him into a playoff with Kuchar, who bogeyed the last hole.
“I was going to three-putt before I left it short,” Jones said. “I didn’t care about finishing second or third or fourth; it didn’t matter. I was only trying to get the win.”
Playing the 18th again in the sudden death playoff, Jones had missed his drive right in the fairway bunker. Clearly, he was disappointed in the lie, but he hit a good shot toward the right side just short of the green.
Meanwhile, Kuchar had split the fairway with his drive, but he pushed his second shot into the greenside bunker. From there, he left himself with a 10-footer for par, but it was already too late — Jones was already in for a his second consecutive birdie 3.
“I walked up there and told my caddy I was going to chip it in,” Jones said. “You don’t know if it’s going to lip out, low or high, but when I saw it disappear it’s probably the happiest I’ve been on the golf course.”
Perhaps even better than the $1.2 million check he won, Jones also earned the final golden ticket — an invitation to play in this week’s Masters at Augusta National.
“I was going home to play with my 2-year-old and 3-week-old,” Jones said. “So, bit of a change now that I think they’ll be on a plane to Augusta as well. We’ve got to find a house.”
In his post-round interview on NBC, he also said he was going to have to buy a lot of plane tickets from Australia and Scottsdale, where he now resides with his wife and kids.
I watched the live stream of the playoff from my phone as I was waiting to board my flight to Atlanta, and I nearly jumped out of my seat when Matt chipped in. He’s a great guy, who’s come close several times, so it was exciting to see him notch his first-career victory on the PGA Tour.
This is the second week in a row that an Australian has won. Last week, Steven Bowditch captured his maiden win on Tour at the Valero Texas Open. Now, with Jones’ victory, Australians have won four of the last seven events on Tour, starting with the run Jason Day started when he secured the title at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. Then, John Senden came out on top at the Valspar Championship.
And this week, we have an Australian trying to defend the Masters and earn his second green jacket with Adam Scott.
Anyhow, I can’t stop watching the video above of Jones chipping in for the win — it doesn’t get much better than that. I don’t care if it’s a big “name” or not.
Oh, for good measure, here’s the video of Matt making the birdie to get into the playoff with Kuchar, who has been in contention the last two weeks yet failed to close the door…
On that note, it’s late here in Augusta and I have a very early call time. Good night and happy Masters week!
RANDOM MATT JONES NOTES:
With his victory, he wins for the first time on the PGA TOUR in his 156th career start on TOUR.
The win earns him a berth in next week’s Masters Tournament, his first start in Augusta.
He earns 500 FedExCup points and is now 16th with 798 points.
He also earns $1,152,000 with his victory and is now 18th on the current money list.
He becomes ninth Shell Houston Open winner from Australia and joins Bruce Devlin (1972), Bruce Crampton (1973, ’75), David Graham (1983), Stuart Appleby (1999, 2006), Robert Allenby (2000) and Adam Scott (2007) with that distinction.
He also becomes the third Australian native to win in the last four weeks, joining Steven Bowditch (Valero Texas Open) and John Senden (Valspar Championship). He is also the fourth overall. Jason Day (WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship) also won earlier this year
Started the day six strokes behind 54-hole leader Matt Kuchar and his come-from-behind win was the best come-from-behind victory since the event moved to the current course. The all-time record is seven by Mike Sullivan in 1989 and Payne Stewart in 1995 at TPC Woodlands.
His previous best showing this year was a T12 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Was T14 in his most recent outing at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
His best PGA TOUR career finish prior to his win came a year ago when he was T2 at The Greenbrier Classic. That helped lead to a T32 finish in the final FedExCup standings.
The Australian native spent four full seasons as a member of the Web.com Tour (2004-07).
A college teammate of Paul Casey at Arizona State where he won All-America honors in 2001.
He was born on April 19, 1980 in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Now resides in Scottsdale, Arizona.