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MASTER MATT – Jones MASTER MATT – Jones maiden win to snatch final spot at Augusta

A clutch birdie on the 72nd hole and stunning hole-out on the first playoff hole has landed Australia’s Matt Jones the final spot in the field for golf’s first major of the year, the US Masters at Augusta National.

Jones began the final day of the Shell Houston Open six shots adrift of leader Matt Kuchar, but stormed home with a final round 66 to take the clubhouse lead at 15-under.

Kuchar still held the lead by one stroke as he headed down the last, but pulled his approach shot into the water. He then made a classy up-and-down for bogey to ensure he at least tied Jones

The ensuing playoff was something to behold.

Having never won on the US PGA Tour, Matt Jones missed the green to the right of 18 on the first playoff hole, and was faced with a tricky pitch to a green that slopes away towards a water hazard.

Under major pressure, Jones landed the biggest blow of his career to date, chipping in for birdie to the sound of rapturous cheers.

It ended a horror half hour for Kuchar, who led by as much as two shots late in the round. One poor shot cost him, and it only took one great shot by Jones to deny him.

Jones’ magical day began with an unfortunate bogey at the first, but birdies at six of his next 10 holes put him into contention.

A birdie-bogey-birdie finish was enough to see him into a playoff with Kuchar.

As for the famous chip-in?

“I told my caddy I was going to chip it in,” he said. “When I saw it disappear, it was probably the happiest I’ve ever been on a golf course.”

“The win means everything to me right now, because that’s what we play for – to win,” he said.

The win in Texas was Jones’ first on the US Tour, and he becomes the fourth Australian to clinch a win so far in 2014.

Following Steven Bowditch’s breakthrough scalp last week, Jones’ victory signals back-to-back Aussie triumphs in the lead-up to Adam Scott’s US Masters defence this week.

“This win’s special, and what come’s with that win’s amazing. It’s just great for all the work I’ve put in over the years to finally get it,” he said.

“Hope the Aussies do well next week and follow in Scotty’s footsteps.”

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