Australia’s Matt Jones powered to the second PGA Tour title of his career on Sunday with a five-shot victory at the Honda Classic in Florida.
The 40-year-old from Sydney capitalised on a mid-round meltdown by rival Aaron Wise to cruise to a comfortable win at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens with a closing two-under-par 68.
Jones, who started the day three shots clear of the field after a one-under-par 69 on Saturday, carded five birdies and two bogeys to seal his first win since the 2014 Houston Open.
“I’ve had some tough times in between that last win and now. It’s pretty emotional,” Jones said. “Had some tough times putting but just worked hard with my coach back in Australia and it’s finally paid off.
Jones, who had laid the foundation for Sunday’s victory with a superb nine-under 61 in Thursday’s opening round, said he had felt relaxed throughout the tournament.
“It was probably the calmest I’ve ever been at a golf tournament for four straight days,” Jones said.
“You can’t get a tougher golf course than this one in these conditions. So to be able to do that was amazing. It’s something I can build on for the future.”
Jones’ win also maintained Australia’s proud record of success on the PGA Tour. An Australian player has now lifted a PGA title for 33 straight seasons, a longer streak than any other country.
Four-putt sinks Wise
Earlier, Jones had looked set for a battle of nerves down the stretch with Wise, who closed to within one shot of the lead after four birdies and a bogey on the front nine.
But the 24-year-old American’s round went off the rails with a nightmare triple-bogey seven on the 10th hole – four putting from 27 feet – which left Jones firmly in control with a four-shot lead.
Although Jones bogeyed the 11th, birdies on the 12th and 13th left him five shots clear with six holes to play.
A bogey on the 14th cut his lead to four shots, but the Australian’s victory never looked in doubt thereafter.
Wise’s round meanwhile went from bad to worse when he hit the water with his second on 16, forcing him to drop and ultimately leading to a double-bogey six, effectively snuffing out his challenge. Wise eventually finished with a three-over-par 73, leaving him eight off the lead.
With the rest of the leading names already in the clubhouse, only a disaster could deny Jones victory.
Instead he rolled in a 16ft birdie putt on 16 to go five shots clear at 12 under with two to play, and then bagged two confident pars to finish with a 12-under-par 268.
Brandon Hagy took second after after a closing four-under-par 66 to finish on seven under.
Chase Seiffert, Brendan Steele, Denny McCarthy, Russell Henley and Taiwan’s C.T. Pan finished tied for third on six under while a group of five players shared eighth place on five under.
Seiffert surged through the field with a closing six-under-par 64, the lowest closing round of the day, with six birdies and 12 pars.