By Jay Betsill
Australian Matt Jones defeated Matt Kuchar in unbelievable fashion by chipping in from 42-feet for a birdie on No. 18 to win the Shell Houston Open. Jones had birdied the final hole from 46-feet in regulation while Kuchar sent his second shot in the water and bogeyed his final hole to set up the playoff. The win earns Jones just under $1.2 million and an invitation to the Masters.
“Going to Augusta is amazing,” Jones said. “The win means everything to me right now because that’s what we play for is to win. To have Augusta as a reward for that win is amazing.”
It was the second straight week that Kuchar was in contention on Sunday following last week’s final found 75 at the Valero Texas Open in San Antonio only to come up short again. He began Sunday with a four shot lead over Sergio Garcia and Cameron Tringale.
“Certainly fantastic stuff to birdie 18 twice,” Kuchar said. “That’s probably the hardest hole on the golf course, and for him to put two 3s is pretty impressive stuff.”
Notables included Garcia (3, -13), Rickie Fowler (6, -9), Rory McIlroy (T7, -8), Phil Mickelson (T12, -7), Steve Stricker (T24, -4) and Henrik Stenson (T54, +1). Dallas resident Jordan Spieth, Texas Open champion Steven Bowditch and Ian Poulter were among those to miss the cut. Dustin Johnson withdrew following a first round 80.
Next up is the season’s first major, the Masters.
— 19-year-old Lexi Thompson won her first career major at the Kraft Nabisco Championship. After opening up a five shot lead, Thompson parred the last nine holes to win by three over Michelle Wie.
“This is what I’ve worked so hard for,” Thompson said. “This was one of my goals coming into the year, to win a major. I’ve always seen myself winning a Kraft Nabisco. It’s such a huge honor with all the history behind the tournament.”
— Golf Digest drew the ire of LPGA players when the news broke that Paulina Gretzky (daughter of Wayne and fiancee to PGA Tour player Dustin Johnson) would appear on the cover of the upcoming issue.
“It’s frustrating for female golfers,” Stacy Lewis, the No. 3-ranked player in the world, told USA Today. “It’s the state of where we’ve always been. We don’t get the respect for being the golfers we are. Obviously, Golf Digest is trying to sell magazines, but at the same time you like to see a little respect for the women’s game.”
— Brian Urlacher and Roger Clemens teamed up to win the 13th annual Micheal Jordan Celebrity Invitational. The event, played at famed Shadow Creek in Las Vegas, has raised nearly $7 million for charities since its inception in 2001. Urlacher and Clemens were -9, good enough for a four shot victory over the second place team of Eric Dickerson and Ozzie Smith.