At a spot famous for the trouble it creates, Matt Jones made winning the Honda Classic at dangerous PGA National look relatively stress free.
That’s something of a hallmark for the 40-year old Jones, who won for just the second time in 330 career starts on the PGA Tour and for the first time since he captured the 2014 Houston Open.
“It was probably the calmest I’ve been for a tournament for four straight days,” said Jones, who finished five strokes ahead of Brandon Hagy.
Jones, who grew up playing in the wind in Australia, has quietly built a solid and lengthy career on the PGA Tour, rarely taking center stage but making himself a regular presence on weekends. He has two noteworthy assets – his overall consistency and his quick pace of play which is as refreshing as it is time saving.
A two-time winner of the prestigious Australian Open, Jones had not held the outright 54-hole lead in a PGA Tour event until he did it at the Honda Classic. It’s a course cluttered with potential catastrophes with its ever-present breeze and a collection of ponds and lagoons.
“You can’t get a tougher course to win on than this one,” Jones said. “To win on this course is amazing. It’s something I can build on for the future.”
On Saturday, Jones was given another reminder of how tumultuous things can get at the Honda Classic, finding himself six strokes behind Aaron Wise at one point in the third round, only to wind up sleeping on the lead.
While others struggled, Jones – who tied the course record with a 9-under-par 61 on Thursday – appeared unperturbed on Sunday, gradually separating himself from the field, which lacked many of the game’s top stars. It was a victory that will put Jones in the Masters for only the second time in his career.
“I’ve had some tough times between (winning in 2014) and now,” Jones said. “I’m pretty emotional. … Seven years. I just worked hard. I had some tough times putting. I worked hard with my coach and it’s finally paid off.”
Ron Green Jr.