Jones Brushes Aside Trouble to Win Q-School Title


Now that Gene Jones will be heading north in a few weeks, you have to wonder if he isn't thinking about bringing part-time caddy Skip Kleman with him.
Rebounding from a less-than-stellar 74 the day before, Jones fired a 2-under-par 70 in the final round of the Canadian Tour McDonald's Winter Qualifying School Friday at the Barefoot Resort in Myrtle Beach, SC, finishing atop the leader board and grabbing one of 20 exempt status Tour cards for this year.Canadian Tour-Large
Conrad Ray (Hilton Head, SC) and Lewis Chitengwa (Zimbabwe) finished tied for second, just two shots behind Jones. Of the Two Canadians in Friday's final qualifying stage, only Craig Matthew was able to walk away with an exempt card with a four-day total of 287. Stuart Anderson (Strathmore, AB) had a disastrous 42 on the back nine, missing a playoff for the 20th card by one stroke while settling for a conditional card.
If early omens are any indication, it would appear as though Jones and Kleman may prove to be a potent one-two punch. Kleman, 22, a Golf Academy of the Carolinas student, trekked out to Barefoot before Wednesday's opening round looking to caddy for a pro. After several offers were declined, Jones, who was about to drive to a neighbouring range for a pre-round practice session, decided to give the youngster a shot.
'I was about to pull away, and he looked so sad, he had these big puppy dog eyes,' laughed the 43-year-old Orlando, FL, resident. 'Actually, we were talking about it earlier today, how it almost seems like destiny. He does a great job reading the greens, and he usually had the right club out of my bag before I had even decided what to use.'
While it was fun for Jones while it lasted, the team may have a quick split-Kleman is scheduled back in class next week and will likely not be around when the Tour's first event of the year, the Myrtle Beach Classic, gets underway on Thursday.
After his disappointing third round, Jones knew he had to work on his mechanics and spent Thursday night practicing his swing in front of a mirror. The next day, he was geared up to re-claim the third-round lead he lost to Dave Christensen of Otsego, MN.
'I think it all comes down to experience,' he said. 'I just to regroup and psyche myself up. But this is a tremendous opportunity for me, to get on the Canadian Tour..there are a lot of strong players, and that can only help me boost my game.'
While those who qualified for the Tour were all smiles in the clubhouse after Friday's round, the same could not be said for Darren Leng of England. The 26-year-old Leng, who sat in a fourth-place tie after Thursday, spent the night in hospital with appendicitis and missed Friday's round.