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Aussies make a move as PGA playoffs loom

Six Australians sit inside the top 20 on the leaderboard after the opening round of the final regular PGA Tour event of 2013.

Matt Jones fired a 65 on Thursday to be five-under and one shot adrift of Chris Stroud and Ross Fisher, who shot 64 on day one to share the lead at the Wyndham Championship in North Carolina.

John Senden and Stuart Appleby are a shot further back in a tie for 11th at four-under, while PGA Tour rookies Alistair Presnell and Scott Gardiner are at three-under, alongside 2006 U.S Open champion Geoff Ogilvy.

While Jones and Ogilvy sit comfortably inside the top-125 of the FedEx Cup standings, Senden, Appleby, Presnell and Gardiner all require a strong finish this week, to secure a spot in the PGA Tour playoffs, beginning next week at the Barclays.

In a post-round interview, Jones spoke about how having his spot in the playoffs secure regardless of the result this week, helped him put together a good days play.

Having been on the wrong side of the rankings before, Jones acknowledged: “It’s not a comfortable feeling”.

“It [being safely inside top 125] does free me up that I can go and be aggressive,” he said.

“It’s always good to get off to a good start.

“I knew with the quality field this week, five-under is a good round but it’s not going to do a lot if you don’t keep it going.

“There’s a lot of good players. I’m going to have to keep playing well,” he said.

Jones is yet to capture a victory on the PGA Tour, but has had a good year in 2013, finishing second once, inside the top-10 three times, and inside the top-25 seven times.

With players jostling for position in the final week before the playoffs, there’s much more at stake than just a win.

Having already stitched up his spot for the Barclays next week, Jones has his sights set on the Tour Championship at East Lake, where only the top-30 on the FedEx Cup standings will earn a start.

“My only goal right now is to get top-30 or a win,” he said.

Apart from the likes of Jason Day, Adam Scott and Marc Leishman – who are not in the field this week – Jones is Australia’s best outside chance to see East Lake action.

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