PGA Tour miss forces Jones out of Australian Open

Sydney’s Matt Jones has had to look at the ‘big picture’ and forfeit the chance to defend his Emirates Australian Open crown at Royal Sydney starting tomorrow.

Jones has hovered around the perimeter on the US Tour money list all year and finished up an agonising 126th on their money list, just one spot away from retaining his full card for the 2017 season.

Matt Jones Matt Jones was all smiles after securing his first Australian Open title in 2015 (Credit: Anthony Powter)

So Jones has little choice but to grab the opportunity to improve his status by playing as many early events in the US ‘wrap-around’ season that he can…and sadly that means missing the Australian Open.

He did play something of a ‘bit’ part in last week’s impressive effort by Rod Pampling to win the Shriners Open, firing rounds of 65-68-69-69 to finish tied for 15th behind ‘Pamps’ with a good cheque for his trouble.

The Australian Open champion will head for the RSM Classic at Sea Island, Georgia, from November 17-20, the same week as the Australian Open looking to kickstart the wraparound US PGA Tour season.

Tournament director Trevor Herden described the news as “disappointing, but completely understandable”.

“Matt and his management have kept us in the loop with their intentions, which we appreciate, so it hasn’t come as a complete surprise,” Herden said.

“Obviously we’d love to have him defend his title, especially after all the emotions of his win on his home course last year…but it’s not to be.

“We just wish Matt well and hope he can do enough at Sea Island to make sure he’s playing where his talent warrants throughout 2017.”

Jones enjoyed an incredible run to his Australian Open success last year, going head-to-head with the then world No 1 Jordan Spieth and emerging triumphant despite a triple-bogey at the ninth almost ending his charge.

Birdies on the 14th and 16th at The Australian ensured he would only need a par up the last hole and triggered joyous celebrations when he did just that with his par putt finding the cup in front of a big gallery of family and friends.