It was not all plain sailing for Jones today but he scrambled well to lead by three – Getty Images Jared Tilton
Australian Matt Jones has regained the three shot lead he held after round one of the Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens in Florida, reversing a six shot deficit he once faced during today’s third round into a three shot advantage as the event enters tomorrow’s final day.
Jones trailed leader Aaron Wise by three shots as he began his third round and when Wise birdied two of his first four holes the gap was six after Jones had opened with a birdie but then bogeyed the 4th and six holes.
Wise appeared to be in full control but the Champion Course layout at Palm Beach Gardens has dangers around every corner and he would fall victim at the 6th which he double bogeyed before a dropping a shot at the 7th.
Further bogeys followed at the 10th 15th, 17th and 18th, the last coming when losing a ball in a penalty area and with Jones being one of the very few amongst the leading dozen or so 36 hole scores to finish under par, his round of 69 saw him lead by three as he had 48 hours earlier.
Wise would eventually finish with 75 and find himself tied for second place with J.B. Holmes whose round of 67 saw him jump 12 positions to be just three behind the lead ahead of tomorrow’s final round.
Another shot back and tied for 4th is Taiwan’s C.T Pan who reeled off a stunning round of 65 in the demanding conditions to jump 38 places and share that position with Cameron Tringale and Sam Ryder.
Jones has won just once on the PGA Tour, that coming at the 2014 Houston Open the week before the Masters, earning him his first start and only start to date at Augusta National.
A win tomorrow would provide him the chance to play the Masters again and along with the US$1,260,000 and a rise in the world rankings to around 50th, then tomorrow is a potentially big day for Matt Jones.
Jones, though, is not getting too far ahead of himself.
“I’ve got a long way to go. A lot of holes out here that can get you, but if I keep managing my game, hopefully I’ll have a chance coming down the last nine.”
Jones was delighted how he had managed his game through the difficult finishing stretch known as the Bear Trap at Palm Beach Gardens.
“I plodded my way around those holes. They’re not birdie holes at all. They’re just don’t make the biggest mistake holes, and I managed to play them even par, which is great. And then played the front nine, made a couple of bogeys, but then made a couple of birdies coming down the stretch on the back nine.”
When asked what memories he will draw on the get through tomorrow Jones added: “I’ll draw on the fact I’ve won a couple of Australian Opens in between, so I can draw on those,” referring to the fact that it has been seven years since his first and only win to date on the PGA Tour.
“I mean, playing with those top players in the final group down there was always something I can draw on. And playing out here it’s just a tough golf course. I mean, you have to go hit the ball well in the wind and coming from Australia we grew up in a lot of wind I’ve got 36 years experience playing in those sort of conditions.
Cameron Davis is tied for 18th at 3 under par after his round of 70 today, Adam Scott is 27th and Lucas Herbert 34th.