Jones holds off Spi­eth to win Aus­tralian Ope

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

SYDNEY: Matt Jones held off world num­ber one Jor­dan Spi­eth and a charg­ing Adam Scott on his home course to win the 100th edi­tion of the Aus­tralian Open by a stroke af­ter a dra­matic fi­nal round yes­ter­day.

Lead­ing by three shots overnight, Jones gave his pur­suers ev­ery chance with a dou­ble and triple bo­gey on the front nine, but four birdies in a two-over-par 73 proved enough for vic­tory on eight-un­der-par at the Aus­tralian Golf Club.

“That was very stress­ful, it wasn’t com­fort­able out there for me,” an emo­tional Jones said af­ter re­ceiv­ing the Stone­haven Cup for the first time.

“I’ve watched the Aus­tralian Open for many years and just to have my name on that tro­phy is some­thing I’ll never forget.”

De­fend­ing cham­pion Spi­eth had a 15foot ea­gle putt at the last to force a play­off but sent his ball wide of the hole and had to set­tle for a 71, giv­ing him a share of sec­ond place with Scott.

“I thought that it would all be there to­day and I just didn’t start out strong enough,” said the U.S. Open and Mas­ters cham­pion.

“It’s frus­trat­ing to only shoot even par when I feel like my game was cer­tainly ready to shoot a three, four, five un­der round.” For­mer world num­ber one Scott, still seek­ing his first ti­tle of the year, had surged up the leader­board with a seven-birdie 65 to move to seven-un­der on an­other blus­tery day in Sydney.

His com­pa­triot Rod Pam­pling had ear­lier sunk a 60-foot ea­gle putt on the 18th green for a re­mark­able course record 10-un­der 61, which was only good enough for fourth on six-un­der. Pam­pling’s stun­ning score bettered the 63 Spi­eth carded to win the ti­tle last year, a fi­nal round that had given the Amer­i­can high hopes he could over­haul Jones’s overnight lead.

The 35-year-old Aus­tralian dropped three shots by go­ing bo­gey-dou­ble bo­gey on the first two holes but Spi­eth also bo­geyed them as the fi­nal group dropped back to­wards the pack.

Jones re­cov­ered with birdies at the fourth and sixth but a calami­tous triple bo­gey at the ninth af­ter hit­ting the trees and plung­ing into the wa­ter saw him drop to six-un­der, level with club­house leader Pam­pling. Spi­eth drained an eight-foot down­hill putt on the 11th to also move to six-un­der and Scott, ahead on the 14th, joined him to make it a four-way tie for the lead. The Amer­i­can’s par­ity was short-lived and an­other visit to the green­side sand saw him bo­gey the 12th just be­fore Jones bril­liantly chipped in from a bunker to save par.

Jones, who won first U.S. PGA ti­tle in Hous­ton last year, inched ahead on sev­e­nun­der with his third birdie at the par-five 14th, which Spi­eth matched to re­join Pam­pling and Scott in sec­ond place.

An­other fine ap­proach shot to the 18th, which he ea­gled on Satur­day to keep his ti­tle hopes alive, saw Scott birdie the last to move back to the top of the leader­board with Jones. Jones picked up an­other shot on the 16th, how­ever, and man­aged to hold his nerve de­spite find­ing the trees on the 17th to clinch the tro­phy with a short par putt on the fi­nal green. The Syd­neysider’s vic­tory also earned him a place at next year’s Bri­tish Open along with Pam­pling and Nick Cullen (68), who shared fifth with Lin­coln Tighe (72) on three-un­der but clinched the spot at Royal Troon cour­tesy of his higher rank­ing. — Reuters

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