HUMBLE, Texas – Matt Jones told his caddy he was about to make a 42-yard chip-in on the first playoff hole at the Houston Open.
The Australian did just that on Sunday, earning his first PGA Tour win in spectacular fashion – and changing his immediate travel plans in the process.
Jones, who began the day six shots off the lead, shot a final-round 66 and ended the tournament 15 under to earn his first trip to the Masters with the dramatic win over Matt Kuchar.
He earned nearly $1.2 million for the win, also making amends for a disastrous missed putt last September that appeared destined to keep him from playing at Augusta National.
Destiny, however, had other plans.
Going to Augusta is amazing, Jones said. 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.
In September, Jones lipped out an 8-foot birdie putt on the last hole of the BMW Championship – a putt that would have earned him a trip to this week’s Masters by sending him to the Tour Championship.
After briefly tying Kuchar in the middle of the round on Sunday, Jones’ chances at redemption for last year appeared finished after he bogeyed the next-to-last hole in regulation. The setback left Jones at 14 under, two shots back of Kuchar.
However, Jones – in the first of his two memorable moments on the 18th – rolled in a 46-foot putt for birdie. That pulled the Australian within one shot of Kuchar, who was watching his closest challenger from the tee.
Kuchar went on to bogey the final hole of regulation. That set the stage for the playoff in the soggy conditions at the Golf Club of Houston.
Sergio Garcia finished in third at 13 under, while Cameron Tringale was fourth at 12 under.
Phil Mickelson was 1 under on Sunday and finished 7 under overall in a tie for 12th.
LPGA: In Rancho Mirage, Calif., Lexi Thompson left Michelle Wie behind – off the tee and on the leaderboard in the Kraft Nabisco Championship.
The 19-year-old Thompson closed with a bogey-free 4-under 68 at Mission Hills for a three-stroke victory over Wie.
EUROPEAN: In Cadiz, Spain, Marco Crespi of Italy won his first European Tour title after carding a 3-under 69 in the final round for a two-shot victory at the inaugural edition of the NH Collection Open.
Jordi Garcia of Spain carded a 66 to climb into a tie for second with Richie Ramsay of Scotland, who shot 68.