Masters-bound Jones beats Kuchar in Houston Open playoff
He dramatically earned a last-minute ticket to the Masters when he sank a 40-yard birdie to beat Matt Kuchar at the first extra hole at the Golf Club of Houston.
“It’s been a while coming. I’ve been out here for seven years now so it’s good to finally get one. I’ve had a few chances.”
But Kuchar, who summered in New Hampshire as a kid and whose grandfather, Maurice, once starred in football at Manchester Central and UNH, pulled his approach shot from 216 yards into the water hazard at the same hole and, after taking a penalty stroke, did well to salvage a bogey thanks to a deft pitch and force a playoff.
Jones started the final round six strokes behind Kuchar and fell further adrift when he bogeyed the first hole.
Spaniard Garcia, the halfway leader, will arrive at the Masters with confidence. So will Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy, whose closing 65 matched the low round of the tournament.
Kuchar also will travel to the Masters in good form, though mindful he has failed to close the deal the past two weeks.
Kuchar needed only to par the par-four 18th to win in regulation but his second shot, with a hybrid, was doomed for a watery grave the entire way.
In the playoff, Jones drove into a fairway bunker and then sprayed his second shot short and right of the green, his ball stopping in light rough.
Kuchar had a chance to extend the playoff, but his bunker shot came up well short.
“I’ve been working hard on the chipping and putting. As soon as it came out, it was exactly where I wanted,” Jones said of his winning shot.
“I have a lot of tickets to buy right now,” he said.