Matt Jones birdies the 13th today – photo Getty Images Jared Tilton
Sydney’s Matt Jones has produced a stunning opening round of 61 at the Honda Classic at Plam Beach Gardens in Florida, the round so good it was three shots better than any other player on day one.
The two time Australian Open champion, who is playing the event for the 8th occasion, finished 4th on debut in 2008 although that aside there has not been a lot to get excited about. Today, however, he took advantage of a 7.36 tee time by producing four birdies in his first five holes and then finished as he started with three birdies to finish.
It was Jones’ lowest round on the PGA Tour and equaled the course record on the Jack Nicklaus designed PGA National Champion course layout.
“In my rookie year I think I finished fourth here, I think I was tied for the lead for a long time, and I thought about that while I was out there playing,” said Jones.
“Someone sent me a screenshot of that leaderboard yesterday, so it was good to see that. It’s just a difficult golf course. If you’re off a little bit you can’t get away with it around here. It was good to make birdies and get away with it.
“I don’t know why I always feel comfortable on this golf course. There’s so many uncomfortable golf holes out there. But it is a course I do like playing, and if I’m hitting it the way I am today the rest of the week, it’ll be a good week.”
Jones leads by three over Aaron Wise and Russell Henley but just two shots further back and tied for 4th is Jones’ fellow Sydneysider, Cameron Davis who played late in the day and put together an impressive round of 66.
Davis was struggling early in his round before he and his two playing partners eagled their 9th hole (the 18th). It was a feat Davis could not recall all three playing partners having done previously.
“I think that’s the first time I’ve seen that,” said the 26 year old. “That was awesome. Scott holed his putt and I was like, I got to make mine now, because I know that his was going in, because it was so close. So that was really fun. It was nice.
“I hit a couple of kind of okay shots, but I wasn’t really getting too much going until then. But I hit a really nice second shot into 18 and I feel like the feel from that shot kind of carried over a little bit onto the front nine.
“I think, like I just hit the ball probably a little bit better off the tee as well — I drove the ball pretty well all day. But I got to the point where I started getting some putts to go in and I think it was nice to get on a little bit of a roll from there on.”
Davis finished an impressive 8th in the event last year.
Cameron Percy and former winner of the event, Adam Scott, were round in 69, Percy continuing some good form of late and Scott’s three birdies and an eagle damaged by a double bogey at his 16th hole.
Lucas Herbert was one of the last out on day one and recorded a round of even par 70, an eagle at the last saving an otherwise ordinary day.
US based Lismore golfer, Rhein Gibson, gained a late start in the event courtesy of Daniel Berger’s late withdrawal and recovered from a horror opening nine of 4 over 39 to finish on that score (74)