PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – When Matt Jones won his first PGA Tour title seven years ago, he needed a 45-foot birdie putt just to make the playoffs and then a 40-yard chip-in to claim victory.
This victory was much less dramatic, but just as significant.
He returned it to the Masters.
Jones won the Honda Classic by five shots on Sunday, a final round of 68 2-under good enough to finish the week 268 under 12 at the PGA National. The margin equaled the largest in tournament history, tying the mark set by Jack Nicklaus in 1977 and equaled by Camilo Villegas in 2010.
“It’s been seven years. It’s been seven tough years,” Jones said. “I’ve had ups and downs, like all golfers, but now he gets me into a lot of big tournaments.”
The 40-year-old Australian made $ 1.26 million and this time around, he will have more than a day to prepare for the trip to Augusta National. His win at the Houston Open in 2014, and his invitation to the Masters, came just one day before he had to go to Augusta, so getting together with family and friends to share the experience was a challenge.
The Masters starts on April 8, so you have a lot more time to plan for this one.
“It’s going to be nice,” Jones said. “I can go prepare for the Masters this time. Last time, it was a total blur. I can’t remember anything about it, so I’m going to do a little preparation this time before.”
Jones started the week with a record round 9-under at 61. He was three shots behind Aaron Wise after 36 holes to 70 in the second round, and his round of 69 on Saturday was good enough to put him ahead. . three coming in on Sunday.
Brandon Hagy (66) finished 7 under and in second place on his 30th birthday, his chance to win was doomed 76 in the third round. Chase Seiffert (64), Brendan Steele (65), CT Pan (70), Denny McCarthy (67) and Russell Henley (68) tied for third place at 6 under.
“There are a lot of tough holes, and the stakes are high for sure, but I’ve been working on some good things, and it’s good to see some of that work out,” Hagy said.
The only stage where Jones’ control of the lead seemed to be in jeopardy was mid-round; Wise, who once led by six shots during the third round, had four birdies on a six-hole stretch up front and got close to one of the leaders.
Wise’s chances ended at par 4 10. He hit his second in a bunker, then made four putts from 25 feet for triple bogey. Jones’ lead went to four, and he avoided trouble the rest of the way, while Wise finished with 73 and tied for 13th with 4 under.
JB Holmes was in the final group with Jones, three shots behind to start the day, and his chances went very fast. Holmes finished with a costly final round 79; second place, where the day started, paid Hagy $ 763,000, while the final tied for 46th paid Holmes $ 19,070.
Holmes hit his shot from a bunker next to the green from the green and bogey the opening hole, then he hit his tee shot right on the second par 4 and needed about 10 minutes to find the ball, it was nestled between the leaves. of the palm trees. – and decide how to proceed.
He continued to double bogey there, and by the time Jones birdied the third par 5, Holmes’s deficit had gone from three to eight shots in about 45 minutes.
At the time, only a few had a realistic chance of catching Jones. Before long, the result was obvious.
“You can’t win on a tougher golf course than this, under these conditions,” Jones said. “To be able to do that on this golf course is amazing and something I can build on for the future, hopefully.”