Shell Houston Open winner Matt Jones says that the last week has been a ‘whirlwind’ for him.
The Australian had to be victorious in Houston to secure a spot at the US Masters, which begins on Thursday, and he completed his task in spectacular fashion, in a play-off against his much more reputed counterpart Matt Kuchar.
It had looked as if Kuchar would stroll to success, but he let his four-shot final day lead slip – partly thanks to a horrible error on the 18th, where he skewed his second-shot into the water after being well placed after his drive – and, via a superb 40-yard chip-in, Jones claimed his first tour success since turning professional in 2001.
Jones admitted straight after the event that he hadn’t done much in the way of planning for Augusta and would now have to spend a lot of time, prior to the event, booking tickets for family and friends to come over to America.
“It’s just been amazing trying to get in touch with everyone and get back to everyone from all the texts, phone calls and emails I've had. Now I'm organising for family and friends coming to town. It’s going to be a great experience for the first time here,” he told reporters in his press-conference in the Masters media-centre.
So, what does it feel like to win your first ever victory, netting $1.2m in the process, in such remarkable circumstances? He continued: “I don’t even know if I can remember.
“It’s been a whirlwind. Finished, chipped in, which I can remember actually, which is a good thing to remember. But then I had to go do all the media and all the family and friends and talking to them.
“To be here now is huge. The win is huge. I played golf my whole life, and our whole aim when you play golf is to win.”
It’s the mantra he is taking in to Augusta, too. Jones may be an outsider to win the first major of the year, but he is unperturbed by his surroundings and claims that he will have his sights firmly focused on taking home the green jacket.
“Every time you tee it up to play golf is to win, and that’s the same thing coming here. My goal is to win. I’m a rookie. It doesn’t happen too often, but I’ve been playing great and I’m playing against the same guys I do every week and I’ve beaten them before. It’ll be a good week.”
If the Australian is to win at Augusta he will not only have to beat the field, but history too. For one, no winner at Houston has ever gone on to be victorious in golf’s most coveted major and only three debutants have ever won the competition – the most recent player to complete to feat being Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979.
Whatever happens, though, Jones will no doubt enjoy his week. He can also take comfort in the fact that his first tour victory has pushed him up to 41st in the rankings – high enough to gain automatic entry to all four of the majors this year, as things stand.
This week may have been a whirlwind for him, but it’s a whirlwind he might just have to get used to.
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