Jones nips Spieth, Scott for Australian Open title

By Associated PressNovember 29, 2015, 6:51 am

SYDNEY - Matt Jones talked about the ''stress and anxious moments'' during his final round at the Australian Open on Sunday.

He wasn't exaggerating.

Jones overcame a bogey, a double bogey and a triple bogey on the front nine Sunday to escape with a one-stroke victory in the 100th Australian Open after shooting a 2-over 73. Jones, who led defending champion Jordan Spieth by three strokes to begin the day, finished with a 72-hole total of 8-under 276. 

Adam Scott, who shot 65 on The Australian Golf Club course Sunday, and Spieth, who had a 71 and missed an eagle attempt on the 18th that could have forced a playoff, were tied for second.

Australian veteran Rod Pampling, who had a course-record 61, was fourth, two strokes behind Jones.

Jones, Pampling, Scott and Spieth were frequently tied for the lead over the final hour, but a birdie on the 16th put the Australian a stroke clear.

Jones' round included holing a bunker shot on the 12th hole for par. There was even drama at the end for the Australian, who dropped his club after hitting his third shot on the par-5 18th, thinking it had gone in the water.

The ball landed safely on the green, however, and after being too cautious with his first putt, he holed a 3-footer for par that nearly lipped out.

Amazingly, he never fell out of the lead, or a share of the lead, all day.

''I got the job done, but there was a lot of stress and anxious moments,'' Jones said. ''A lip-in putt on the last to get the win. That bunker shot on 12 was probably the biggest thing because I knew I had some birdies left.''

Jones double-bogeyed the par-3 second hole when it took him two shots to get out of a bunker, then triple-bogeyed the ninth when his approach shot from the rough went into the middle of a lake. He made the turn in 4-over 39 and was tied with Pampling for the lead, with Scott and Spieth one behind.

He shot 2-under 34 on the back nine, while Scott and Spieth came up short in their attempts to overtake him.

Spieth was impressed with Jones' resilience.

''I just told him that was one of the best-fought wins I've ever seen, to come through what he did on 2, 9 and then that par he made on 12,'' Spieth said. ''Twelve was by far the tipping point in the round.

''We're the ones who had the most holes remaining so we control it, and for him to go back to whatever he was, 1 or 2 up on me at the time there, was really kind of a game changer.''

Scott, who trailed Jones by nine strokes at the start of the day, stayed tied for the lead when he made a 15-foot putt for par on the 17th, then pulled back into a tie with Jones when he birdied the last - before Jones' clinching birdie.

''I left myself with a little bit of work to do there on 17, but anytime you want to put yourself in a position to win, you've got to make some putts,'' Scott said. 

Scott is winless this year and his streak of capturing at least one tournament every year since 2001 could end if he doesn't win his final tournament of the year in early December - the Hero World Challenge at his home base of the Bahamas.

Lee Westwood closed with a 69 and finished at 2 over, 10 strokes back. U.S. Amateur champion Bryson DeChambeau shot 72 and finished at 4 over, as did European Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke after a 76.

Spieth set the previous course record of 63 during the final round last year to win the tournament by six strokes, with Pampling finishing runner-up. It was the first time the Jack Nicklaus-designed course had played at a par-71.

Pampling opened with a bogey but then recorded nine birdies - including 2s on three of the four par-3s on the course - and an eagle.

Jones, Pampling and Australian Nick Cullen, who finished tied for fifth, qualified for next year's British Open as the three highest finishers at the Australian Open who are not already exempt for Royal Troon next July.

More importantly for Jones, he joins seven-time champion Gary Player, six-time winner Jack Nicklaus and five-time winner Greg Norman with his name on the Stonehaven Cup.

''I battled away today,'' Jones said. ''I could have let it slip and let it get away easily, but I fought it out.''

Getty Images

Fowler among 5 to skip WGC-Match Play

By Ryan LavnerMarch 17, 2018, 2:24 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – Five of the top 64 players in the world will skip next week’s WGC-Dell Match Play.

Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Henrik Stenson, Brooks Koepka and Adam Scott all will miss the second WGC event of the year, held next week at Austin Country Club.

As a result, the last man into the field is world No. 69 Luke List. Kevin Na, Charles Howell III, Joost Luiten and Keegan Bradley also got into the field.

Julian Suri and Bill Haas are the first two alternates, if anyone else withdraws from the round-robin-style match-play event.

This is the second year in a row that Rose, Fowler, Stenson and Scott will not play in Austin. Koepka reached the quarterfinals each of the past two years, but he is still recovering from a wrist injury.

The final seeding for the event will be determined after this week’s tournaments. The bracket show is at 7:30 p.m. Monday, live on Golf Channel.

Getty Images

Korda happy to finally be free of jaw pain

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 2:43 am

PHOENIX – Jessica Korda isn’t as surprised as everyone else that she is playing so well, so quickly, upon her return from a complex and painful offseason surgery.

She is inspired finally getting to play without recurring headaches.

“I’d been in pain for three years,” she said after posting a 4-under-par 68 Friday to move two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

Korda had her upper jaw broken in three places and her low jaw broken in two places in December in a procedure that fixed the alignment of her jaw.

Korda, 25, said the headaches caused by her overbite even affected her personality.

“Affects your moods,” Korda said. “I think I was pretty snappy back then as well.”

She was pretty pleased Friday to give herself a weekend chance at her sixth LPGA title, her second in her last three starts. She won the Honda LPGA Thailand three weeks ago in her first start after returning from surgery.

“I'm much happier now,” Korda said. “Much calmer.”

Even if she still can’t eat the things she would really like to eat. She’s still recuperating. She said the lower part of her face remains numb, and it’s painful to chew crunchy things.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“Chips are totally out of question,” Korda said.

She can eat most things she likes, but she has to cut them into tiny pieces. She can’t wait to be able to eat a steak.

“They broke my palate, so I can't feel anything, even heat,” Korda said. “So that's a bit difficult, because I can't feel any heat on my lip or palate. I don't know how hot things are going in until they hit my throat.”

Korda has 27 screws in her skull holding the realignment together. She needed her family to feed her, bathe her and dress her while she recovered. The procedure changed the way she looks.

While Korda’s ordeal and all that went into her recovery has helped fans relate to her, she said it’s the desire to move on that motivates her.

“Because I was so drugged up, I don't remember a lot of it,” Korda said. “I try to forget a lot of it. I don't think of it like I went through a lot. I just think of it as I'm pain-free. So, yeah, people are like, `Oh, you're so brave, you overcame this and that.’ For me, I'm just going forward.”

Getty Images

Finally adapted to short putter, Martin near lead

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:54 am

PHOENIX – Mo Martin loved her long putter.

In fact, she named her “Mona.”

For 10 years, Martin didn’t putt with anything else. She grew up with long putters, from the time she started playing when she was 5.

While Martin won the Ricoh Women’s British Open in 2014, about nine months after giving up Mona for a short putter, she said it’s taken until today to feel totally comfortable with one.

And that has her excited about this year.

Well, that and having a healthy back again.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“I've had a feeling that this year was going to be a good one,” Martin said. “My game is in a special place.”

Martin was beaming after a 6-under-par 66 Friday moved her two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

“Just a beautiful day,” Martin said. “I was able to play my game, make my putts.”

Martin hit all 14 fairways in the second round, hit 15 greens in regulation and took just 27 putts. After struggling with nagging back pain last year, she’s pain free again.

She’s happy to “just to get back to a place now where my ball striking is where it has been the last few years.”

Martin, by the way, says Mona remains preserved in a special place, “a shrine” in her home.

Getty Images

Clanton rides hole-out eagle to lead at Founders

By Associated PressMarch 17, 2018, 1:47 am

PHOENIX - Cydney Clanton holed out from the fairway for eagle on the par-4 13th and closed with a birdie Friday to take the second-round lead in the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

Clanton shot a 5-under 67, playing the back nine at Desert Ridge in 5-under 31 to reach 9-under 135.

Clanton's wedge on the 13th flew into the cup on the first bounce. She also birdied the par-5 11th and 15th and the par-4 18th. The 28-year-old former Auburn player is winless on the LPGA.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Ariya Jutanugarn, Marina Alex, Karine Icher and Mariajo Uribe were a stroke back on a calmer day after wind made scoring more difficult Thursday.

Jessica Korda and Mo Martin were 7 under, and Michelle Wie topped the group at 6 under.