Clarke misses Top-10 chance as Jones claims Australian Open

Clarke misses Top-10 chance as Jones claims Australian Open

Matt Jones holes the winning putt

Darren Clarke played his last 11 holes in six over par to slip to tied 30th in the Emirates Australian Open at The Australian in Sydney.

As Matt Jones (73) came back from a nightmare, four over par, front nine to win the title by one stroke from Adam Scott (65) and Jordan Spieth (71) on eight under, Clarke shot a five over 76 to end the week on four over.

The European Ryder Cup skipper, tied seventh overnight, was seeking his first Top-10 finish for more than two years. But after two birdies and a bogey in the first seven holes, he had two bogeys, a double and a triple bogey seven at the 17th before he birdied the last.

He wasn’t the only player to find the going tough on Sunday.

Title winner Jones was relieved to get the job done on his home course having almost blown his big chance with a bogey, double bogey start.

He triple-bogeyed the ninth after hitting his second shot into the pond in front of the green and even with a one-shot lead playing the 18th, he almost hit his third shot into the water.

He described his final round as “sloppy” and “terrible” but his three shot overnight lead was enough to get him over the line and give him the famous Stonehaven Cup.

Jones said: "To have my name on this trophy with like (Jack) Nicklaus, (Jack) Newton, Norman, all those guys, it’s a dream come true for me and it’s something that I can’t have taken away from me."

Jones, Rod Pampling and Nick Cullen qualified for the 145th Open at Royal Troon from 14-17 July 2016. 


Pampling finished fourth on six-under-par, three ahead of Cullen who tied on three-under-par with fellow Australian Lincoln Tighe but secured the qualifying place thanks to his higher position in the Official World Golf Ranking.

Sydney-born Jones, who is a member of The Australian Golf Club, which hosted the event, endured an eventful final round, including a triple bogey seven on the par 4 ninth hole, but finished strongly with birdies on the 14th and 16th holes before calmly holing a four foot par putt on the last to seal victory. 

The 35-year old will make his third consecutive appearance in The Open after finishing tied 30th at St Andrews this year.

Pampling started the day at four-over-par and a bogey at the first did not augur well but from there the Queenslander birdied nine of the next 16 holes before holing a putt across the length of the green on the last for a dramatic eagle for a ten-under-par, course record 61 that took him into the qualifying places.

The 46-year-old will make his ninth appearance in The Open at Royal Troon, where he finished tied 27th in 2004, his joint best finish in the Championship. Pampling came through The Open Qualifying Series at the Emirates Australian Open last year to secure his place at the 144TH Open at St Andrews. 

Culllen mixed five birdies and four bogeys in his final round 68 but an eagle on the par five 14th hole helped him move to three-under-par for the championship. 

When former US Open champion Geoff Ogilvy’s challenge faded after dropping three shots on the last two holes to finish on one-under-par, the 31-year-old from Adelaide secured his second appearance in The Open after making his Major Championship debut in The Open at Royal Lytham in 2012.

Matt Jones with the Stonehaven Cup

“It’s one Major I would love to win, it’s one Major that I think suits my golf game the best,” Jones said. "I’m absolutely ecstatic to get back to The Open. I have played it the last two years and to be able to qualify this early on means I can schedule around it and get ready for it.

“I just love it over there, being in Europe playing golf is just fantastic. I can’t wait to get over there for The Open. Apart from winning this golf tournament, that was my next goal - to qualify for The Open. 

"I want to play as many Majors as I can and to qualify for The Open already this year is fantastic. I am going to go over a week early this time and prepare.”

Pampling said: “To know you’re in the event is fantastic. Peter Dawson let me start the event off last year and it was fantastic to have that honour.

“I’m delighted to get back there.  Obviously it’s where the game started.  The results haven’t shown it, but I really enjoy playing The Open.  Hopefully this year, maybe I will work it out and who knows what we can do. It’s certainly awesome to be getting back into The Open again.”

Cullen said: “It is probably one of the most memorable experiences I have had (playing at The Open in 2012). Unfortunately I missed the cut by a shot but links golf I have always loved it so playing at Troon is going to be amazing.

“It’s unbelievable. I didn’t think it would be enough coming in. I thought I needed to make a couple of putts in the last couple of holes but I’ll take it. I’m very happy.”

The Open Qualifying Series continues at the Thailand Golf Championship from 10-13 December 2015 where Clarke will tee it up alongside the likes of Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Bubba Watson. Martin Kaymer, Thongchai Jaidee, Kiradech Aphibarnra and Thomas Bjør.

Clarke will first play the Ho Tram Open at The Bluffs at Ho Tram Strip from December 3-6 with Ireland’s Niall Turner and Niall Kearney also in the field.