HUMBLE, TEXAS – Matt Jones told his caddie he was about to make a 42-yard chip-in on the first playoff hole at the Houston Open.
The 33-year-old 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, earning his first trip to the Masters with a dramatic victory over Matt Kuchar.
He earned nearly $1.2 million, also making amends for a disastrous missed putt last September that appeared destined to keep him from playing at Augusta National.
“Going to Augusta is amazing,” said Jones, who played at Arizona State. “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 next week’s Masters by sending him to the Tour Championship.
After briefly tying Kuchar in the middle of the round on Sunday, Jones bogeyed the next-to-last hole in regulation, leaving 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 him within one shot of Kuchar.
Kuchar went on to bogey the final hole of regulation after hitting his second shot into the water.
That set the stage for the playoff. Jones drove into the right fairway bunker on the first playoff hole. He then landed just short of the greenside bunker with his second shot, while Kuchar found the bunker from the fairway.
Jones didn’t leave Kuchar any room for error in the playoff, sending his chip over the greenside bunker and watching it roll in.
“When I saw it disappear it’s probably the happiest I’ve been on the golf course,’ Jones said.