By E. Michael Johnson
By Jared C. Tilton
Asked after the third round about the potential for a wild finish, Matt Jones said, “I think there's always that potential out here. [It} doesn't matter how big your lead is or how small your lead is, anything can happen. And not just this golf course, it happens every week out here. So, we'll see what happens.”
What happened was Jones eliminated all suspense. After missing a short par putt on the par-4 11th to narrow his lead to three, Jones responded with a pair of birdies on the next two holes to stretch the lead to five and then navigated the rest of PGA National’s water-laden Champion course to grab his first win on the PGA Tour in seven years with a final-round 68.
On a course that demands solid ball-striking, Jones delivered the goods. In the final round he hit 11 of 14 fairways and 17 of 18 greens in regulation, providing him enough birdie chances and keeping the opportunities for disaster at a minimum. For the week the 40-year-old picked up an impressive 14-plus strokes gained/tee to green, tops in the field. Couple that gaining five strokes around the green, and that's usually good enough for a victory.
Incredibly, Jones iron setup is identical to the one he had in his only other PGA Tour win at the 2014 Shell Houston Open with a Mizuno Fli-Hi utility iron and Titleist’s 712 MB irons with True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400 shafts and Golf Pride Tour Velvet grips.
Particularly key was his birdie at the par-4 12th, where Jones ripped a 330-yard tee shot with his Titleist TSi2 driver, leaving him 98 yards in. The ensuing birdie quickly erased the memory of the bogey at the 11th. Jones hit the rest of the greens in regulation coming in as well, making another birdie at the 16th—just to make sure there would be no wild finish at all.
What Matt Jones had in the bag at the 2021 Honda Classic:
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
Driver: Titleist TSi2 (Fujikura Ventus Blue 7X), 10 degrees
3-wood: Titleist TSi3, 16.5 degrees
Irons (2): Mizuno MP Fli-Hi; (4-PW): Titleist 712 MB
Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 (52, 56 degrees); Titleist Vokey SM8 (60 degrees)
Putter: Scotty Cameron by Titleist Newport 2 GSS