Chilled-out Brendan Jones enjoying life in Japan


2009 PGA ChampionshipCHASKA, Minn. ' Brendan Jones has found the balance he needs.
Not necessarily with his swing, though his 70 in the second round of the PGA Championship on Friday left him in a five-way tie for second, but in his personal life.
Simply put: He has better perspective, amid the anonymity of playing on the Japanese tour and the opportunity to spend more time with his wife and 2-year-old son and even do some gardening in his native Australia.
After joining the PGA Tour in 2005, Jones quickly wore out under the grind, the scrutiny and the pressure. He entered 28 tournaments that year and finished in the top 10 only once, a tie for second place at the now-defunct B.C. Open in upstate New York.
When I came over here, for some reason I just found it a very stressful place, Jones said. Youre playing for ridiculous money each week, and everyones looking at the 125 and the top 40s and top 60s and whatever.
So Jones went back to Japan, where he happily commutes from Down Under for a dozen or so tournaments annually. This is his third PGA Championship, and the first time hes made the cut. The only other event in the United States he participated in this season was the Accenture Match Play Championship in February, when he lost to none other than Tiger Woods in the commencement of Woodss comeback.
Even if hes able to overtake Woods and win at Hazeltine National Golf Club this weekend, Jones ' the 64th-ranked player in the world ' insisted hed still opt for playing in Japan.
Im very, very happy and by playing well there I get into these bigger events, he said. My lifes pretty good now.
It helps to be out of the spotlight.
Ive played great there the last few years, and Im just very, very relaxed, Jones said. I speak a little Japanese, not much, and the cameras arent on you all the time. You just go about your day-to-day life, and just go out and play golf.
The 34-year-old has learned not to obsess about his performance.
When Im not playing I just get away from golf totally, Jones said. And I think if I was to come back here Id have to work on my game a lot more, and it hasnt worked for me in the past. Im very, very happy with how I live my life, and where I am in the golfing world.
This relaxed attitude clearly helped him in the heat and the wind on Friday. Those conditions are nothing new to him, having grown up near the south coast of Australia in New South Wales. He turned in an eagle on the 14th hole.
I felt really comfortable out there. I wasnt thinking it was a major championship, Jones said. I just went out and played, and my whole game was pretty solid.

FISHER'S FADE: With a fifth-place finish at the U.S. Open already on his 2009 record, Ross Fisher isnt a stranger to the top of the scoreboard. He was tied with Tiger Woods briefly in the afternoon before faltering and bogeying his last two holes.
Fisher finished in the five-way tie for second place, at 3 under. He didnt hesitate to acknowledge watching the standings as he walked the course on Friday afternoon.
It kind of inspires you. I can get a real kick out of it, seeing my name up there, said Fisher, who tied for 13th place in his homeland at the British Open. I want to see it gradually creep up towards the top. I managed to do that, but unfortunately two slip-ups kind of cost me.

LOVE FOR LEHMAN: Though he now lives in Arizona, Minnesota native Tom Lehman was naturally a crowd favorite.
The 50-year-old was so appreciative of all the encouragement he put a little too much pressure on himself while bogeying four of his first six holes on the wind-swept, sun-soaked course on Friday.
I think the reason I was pressing so hard early was I wanted to do something to please the fans, to let em know, Hey, I appreciate you and Im going to show you that by playing good golf, said Lehman, who finished at 2-over after shooting even par in the first round. And I was struggling, just trying too hard.
Then came the seventh hole. His second shot landed just off the right edge of the green, setting up a 60-foot chip that he sent into the cup ' sending the fans into a frenzy.
That really got my round turned around, Lehman said. It couldnt have come at a better time.

SINGH'S SUCCESS: Vijay Singh has switched to a short putter this week, yet another change to his greens game about which he joked he could write a book. Hes usually not confident enough to bring it on the course, preferring to work with it at home, but he decided to do so this week at Hazeltine.
As for the long putter?
Its in the locker. Its not too far away, said Singh, who followed a 3-under 69 in the first round with an even-par 72 in the second round to remain in strong position for the weekend.
After a couple of successful putts on Thursday, he expressed confidence in that phase of his game. He reiterated that faith in his putting on Friday.
Im not thinking about it at all, Singh said. Im stroking well.

DIVOTS: Five former PGA Championship winners missed the cut: Paul Azinger, Mark Brooks, Steve Elkington, Davis Love III and Shaun Micheel.
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