Matt Jones of Australia survived a near disastrous start, that included a double bogey and a triple bogey on a nervous front nine, to hold off two world number ones and win the 2015 Emirates Australian Open.
The 35-year old Jones finished up with an unlikely two-over par 73 and a one shot victory over the current number one player in the world, Jordan Spieth and former world #1 Adam Scott.
Jones started his final round in the worst possible way, bogeying the first hole and making a double on the par-3 second. The Sydney native recovered with birdies on the fourth and six holes, but gave them back with triple bogey seven on the par-4 ninth, to go out in 4 over par, 39, six-under par for the tournament.
Jones settled himself on the back nine, holing a bunker shot on #12 for par, before making birdies on 14 and 16 to claim his first win on the Australasian Tour and a second worldwide win, to go with his victory in the 2014 Shell Houston Open.
Despite all his troubles, Jones never lost the lead on a wild day at the Australian Golf Club at Rosbery.
”I got the job done, but there was a lot of stress and anxious moments,” Jones said. ”A lip-in putt on the last to get the win. That bunker shot on 12 was probably the biggest thing because I knew I had some birdies left.”
”I battled away today,” Jones said. ”I could have let it slip and let it get away easily, but I fought it out.”
Spieth’s Slow Start Costly
Spieth made the day less stressful for Jones then it had to be, making three bogies of his own in the first six holes, before rallying for five birdies on the last 12. An untimely bogey on the par-4 12th, however, sealed his fate. In the end, his even-par 71 left him one shot short.
Spieth was impressed with Jones’ performance. ”I just told him that was one of the best-fought wins I’ve ever seen, to come through what he did on 2, 9 and then that par he made on 12,” Spieth said. ”Twelve was by far the tipping point in the round.
Scott, Pampling Go Low
Scott, starting the day nine shots back, almost pulled off the impossible comeback shooting 4-under par 31 on the front side to pull within a shot of the lead. But a bogey on the 11th left him too much to do on the final nine, even with three more birdies on the back for a final round six-under 65.
Scott’s 65 was impressive, but the round of the day, and the tournament was turned in by Australian veteran Rod Pampling on Sunday. The Queenslander, after a bogey on the first hole, made five birdies on the front to go out in 31. Four more birdies and an eagle on the last led to a closing nine 30 and a course record, 10-under par, 61, giving him 4th place alone.
“The day didn’t start out as I planned, but that’s the way it goes,” Pampling said. “I knew I’d been hitting it well all week, just couldn’t get anything going. “Whatever it is, it got going and it was fantastic to be out there watching myself play well.”
First round leader Lincoln Tighe and fellow Australian Nick Cullen shared fifth place after finishing the tournament with a 3-under par total of 281. Cullen was also one of three players to qualify for the 2016 Open Championship at Royal Troon next summer, joining Jones and Pampling as one of the three highest finishers not already qualified.
Spieth and Scott are both scheduled to play in the Hero World Challenge this coming week in the Bahamas.
Among other notable players, Australia’s Geoff Ogilvy finished T8 at 1-under par after a final round 73. Lee Westwood of England, another former world number one, finished at +2 and a tie for 18th after a final round 69.
American Bryson DeChambeau and Taiwan’s Chun-An Yu finished tied for low amateur honors at 288 after matching final round 72’s.