HOUSTON - Australia's Matt Jones chipped in from rough on the first playoff hole to win the PGA Tour's Houston Open title and claim the final spot in the Masters on Sunday. Jones, of Sydney, poured in a long birdie putt on the 18th hole to force a playoff with Matt Kuchar, then chipped in for birdie on the extra hole to claim his first USPGA Tour victory.
"It's amazing. It's been a while coming. I've been out here seven years now, so it's good to finally get one. I've had a few chances, so I'm quite happy now," Jones said. Jones fired a six-under 66 to get in 15-under-par 273 on the Tournament Course at the Golf Club of Houston. Kuchar led by one in the 18th fairway, but put his second shot in the water. He got up and down for bogey to force the extra session, closing with an even-par 72. The pair returned to the 18th hole for the playoff. Jones found a fairway bunker off the tee before Kuchar hit his drive right down the middle of the fairway. Jones played short of the green in the right rough. Kuchar fired his approach into a bunker right of the green.
Jones' long chip landed on the green then curled into the cup for a birdie. Kuchar failed to match, as his shot from the bunker landed 10 feet short of the cup. "The tee shot I didn't hit that great, but the second shot was in a rut and I couldn't get it on the green, so I just decided to lay it up," Jones said. "That was still a tough shot from there, but I've been working hard on my chipping and putting.
"I told my caddie walking up there I'd chip it in, so it was nice to do it." Spain's Sergio Garcia fired a two-under 70 to take third place at minus-13, while Cameron Tringale was one shot back after shooting a 71. Shawn Stefani (69) took fifth at 10-under 278 and Rickie Fowler (71) was sixth at nine-under. Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy closed with a seven-under 65 and was one of five players that shared seventh place at eight-under 280. American Phil Mickelson shot 71 in the final round and was one stroke behind McIlroy at seven-under.
Jones got off to a rocky start with a bogey at the first to drop seven strokes back. His rally began with three birdies in a four-hole stretch from No. 3. Jones birdied the par-five eighth en route to making the turn at 12-under. That put him just two back of the leaders.