HUMBLE, Texas — Matt Jones earned his first trip to the Masters with a remarkable 42-yard chip-in on the first playoff hole, outdueling Matt Kuchar on his way to winning the Shell Houston Open on Sunday.
The win is the first on the PGA Tour for the Australian, who made a 46-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole to reach the playoff. He ended it one hole later, chipping over the right front bunker on the 18th and watching it roll in.
Kuchar, who bogeyed the final hole of regulation, then missed his bunker shot to give Jones the win — earning him nearly $1.2 million and a trip to Augusta National.
Jones, who began the day six shots back of Kuchar, shot a final-round 66 and ended the tournament 15 under overall.
In September, Jones lipped out an 8-foot birdie putt on the last hole of the BMW Championship — a putt that would have earned him a trip to next week’s Masters by sending him to the Tour Championship presented by Coca-Cola.
He waited until the last possible moment to make amends for that miss on Sunday, doing so in impressive fashion.
Jones sent his tee shot on the first hole of the playoff into the right fairway bunker. He then landed just short of the greenside bunker with his second shot, while Kuchar found the bunker from the fairway.
It was the second straight miss of the 18th green from the fairway for Kuchar, who sent his fairway metal on the 72nd hole into the water before recovering to make bogey and reach the playoff.
Jones didn’t leave Kuchar any room for error in the playoff, sending his chip over the greenside bunker and watching as it rolled in — much to the delight of the Golf Club of Houston gallery.
Golfers were sent off in threesomes early Sunday morning for the second day in a row because of the threat of strong storms in the Houston area. The rain, heavy at times, began early during the final pairing’s round, but the pros finished without any delays.
Leaderboard: Matt Jones 68-68-71-66—273 (-15)** ; Matt Kuchar 66-67-68-72—273 (-15); Sergio Garcia 67-65-73-70—275 (-13); Cameron Tringale 68-68-69-71—276 (-12)
** (Won with birdie-3 on first extra hole)
— With his victory, he wins for the first time on the PGA Tour in his 156th career start on Tour.
— The win earns him a berth in next week’s Masters Tournament, his first start in Augusta.
— He earns 500 FedExCup points and is now 16th with 798 points.
— He also earns $1,152,000 with his victory and is now 18th on the current money list.
— He becomes ninth Shell Houston Open winner from Australia and joins Bruce Devlin (1972), Bruce Crampton (1973, ’75), David Graham (1983), Stuart Appleby (1999, 2006), Robert Allenby (2000) and Adam Scott (2007) with that distinction.
— He also becomes the third Australian native to win in the last four weeks, joining Steven Bowditch (Valero Texas Open) and John Senden (Valspar Championship). He is also the fourth overall. Jason Day (WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship) also won earlier this year.
— Started the day six strokes behind 54-hole leader Matt Kuchar and his come-from-behind win was the best come-from-behind victory since the event moved to the current course. The all-time record is seven by Mike Sullivan in 1989 and Payne Stewart in 1995 at TPC Woodlands.
— His previous best showing this year was a T12 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Was T14 in his most recent outing at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
— His best career finish prior to his win came a year ago when he was T2 at The Greenbrier Classic. That helped lead to a T32 finish in the final FedExCup standings.
— The Australian native spent four full seasons as a member of the Web.com Tour (2004-07).
— A college teammate of Paul Casey at Arizona State where he won All-America honors in 2001.
— He was born on April 19, 1980 in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Now resides in Scottsdale, Arizona.
— Lost in a playoff for the first time in three career playoffs on the PGA Tour and finished second when Matt Jones chipped in from 42 yards on the first extra hole (No. 18).
— His second-place finish earned him 300 FedEx Cup points and moved him into 15th place with 821 points.
— It was his sixth top-10 finish in nine starts this year and the 43rd since the 2010 season, tops on the PGA TOUR. Luke Donald is second to Kuchar with 36 during that span.
— Closed with a final-round 2-under-par 70 to finish in third place.
— In Garcia’s only other appearance at the Shell Houston Open, he finished T77 in 2009.
— In six previous starts this season, Garcia has collected three top-10 finishes, with his best previous showing a solo-fourth at the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions in November.
— He finished fourth, his best effort in this event in four appearances at the Shell Houston Open.
— In his previous three starts at the Shell Houston Open, Tringale finished T16 (2013), T8 (2012) and T73 (2011). Thirteen of his 16 rounds at Golf Club of Houston have been sub-par scores. Of those, eight have been in the 60s.
— Tringale is making his 16th start of the 2013-’14 PGA TOUR Season this week. His three previous top-15 finishes came in a three-week stretch in February; Waste Management Phoenix Open (T12), AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am (T13) and Northern Trust Open (T12).
— He fulfilled his Minor Medical Extension with his fifth-place finish. He needed to earn $84,084 or 36 FedEx Cup points and he easily did both, earning $256,000, the largest of his professional career, and 110 points. He will now have Major Medical Status and fully-exempt status for the remainder of the year.
— Stefani can thank his putter for some of his success this week. During the four rounds, he made putts from 63-6, 60-5, 40-7, 35-11, 33’-1 and 23-9.
— Stefani finished No. 135 in the 2013 FedExCup standings to earn partial status for the 2013-’14 PGA Tour Season. He started the year on a Minor Medical Extension due to a neck injury and had two events to earn $84,084 or 36 FedExCup points. In his first start of the season, he missed the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open in his first start.
— Stefani, a two-time winner on the Web.com Tour in 2012, was an active member of the Houston Golf Association junior program from aged 10-18. He was born in nearby Baytown and attended Lamar University in Beaumont.
— He finished T7 which was critical since he was playing in his 13th and final event under a Major Medical Extension. He needed to finish at least 26th or better and earn $50,624 to extend his Major Medical Extension for the rest of the year. He earned $186,240 with his finish on Sunday.
— With the Masters Tournament next on the 2013-14 PGA Tour schedule, here is how the winners of this event have done the following week. The Shell Houston Open moved to the week before the Masters in 2007. The exception was last year when it was two weeks before.
— Rookie Brice Garnett earned the first top-10 finish of his brief career when he finished T7. This was just his 14th start for the former Web.com Tour player.
— Rory McIlroy had the day’s best round, a 7-under-par 65, and it helped him jump from T37 to a T7 finish. It was his third top-10 in five starts this year.
— Sunday’s playoff was the 22nd in Shell Houston Open history, the most for any non-major event on the PGA TOUR. Prior to Sunday’s playoff, the last came in 2010 when Anthony Kim defeated Vaughn Taylor.
— A total of 44 players in this week’s Shell Houston Open are scheduled to compete in next week’s Masters Tournament. Matt Jones thus becomes the 45th.
— FedExCup leader Jimmy Walker finished T24 and remains atop the standings with 1,966 points. Patrick Reed remains second with 1,343.