05 Mar 2022 | Professional golf |
Felton, Jones set up Sunday duel
by PGA of Australia
Brendan Jones and Jarryd Felton will call on former glories as they each seek to complete an unlikely victory in the final round of TPS Sydney at Bonnie Doon Golf Club on Sunday.
Jones was one of six players to post rounds of seven-under 64 in dry conditions on Saturday, Felton’s round of six-under 65 enough to match Jones’ three-round total of 15-under to set up a Sunday showdown in the final group.
The pair will begin the final round with a three-stroke buffer from overnight leader Lucas Higgins (70), Brady Watt (64) and Austin Bautista (65), David Micheluzzi (64) and Grace Kim (65) a further shot back in a share of sixth at 11-under.
Higgins extended his 36-hole lead to three with a birdie at his opening hole on Saturday yet back-to-back double bogeys at six and seven saw Felton and Jones trade places at the top of the leaderboard throughout the afternoon.
Felton held a two-stroke lead late only for a bogey at the par-4 17th and Jones’s birdie from off the front edge of the 18th green to bring the scores back level with 18 holes to play.
Both leaders have played precious little golf the past two years. The NSW Open a year ago is Jones’ only tournament since the 2020 New Zealand Open while West Australian Felton has struggled to find consistent playing opportunities despite having status on the Challenge Tour in Europe.
Jones is a 15-time winner on the Japan Golf Tour and Felton is chasing a fourth ISPS Handa PGA Tour of Australasia title yet both admit that there will be nerves on the first tee on Sunday afternoon.
“There’s going to be nerves, of course, but it’s just trying to remember the last time I was in these situations,” said Jones, whose last win in Japan was the 2019 Token Homemate Cup.
“In all honesty, being where I am is not where I envisaged at the start of the week.
“Forty-seven, couple of years out of the game, there’s all these uncertainties in the brain.
“To this point I have proven that I am still competitive and who knows what’s going to happen tomorrow.”
A tie for 18th behind partner Hannah Green at TPS Murray River a fortnight ago instilled Felton with confidence that he was trending in the right direction, now ready to add a matching TPS Sydney trophy to the couple’s mantlepiece.
“At the start of the week you think that you want to play in the final group and try and win the tournament and that’s where we’re at,” said Felton, whose last tournament win was the 2020 WA PGA Championship at Kalgoorlie.
“I’ll be nervous for sure, it’s been a while, but take good steps from today and hopefully play well tomorrow.”
One of 15 players to shoot 65 or better on Saturday, Grace Kim is part of the chasing pack hoping to upset the front-runners with a Sunday charge.
With coach Khan Pullen on the bag, Kim was left to rue a host of missed birdie opportunities in her round of six-under 65, hoping to harness a hot putter on the final day for a maiden win as a professional.
“My iron play was pretty good today. I haven’t been able to hole as many putts as I’d like so I just thought I’d put it closer instead,” Kim joked.
“Anyone can really go low any day of the week this week. Just going to do whatever I did today and hopefully a lot more putts drop because I did leave a lot out there as well.”
Newcastle teenager Jake Riley has a two-shot lead in the TPS Junior Players Series after riding the wave of a hot group to post five-under 66 in the first round.
Playing alongside Watt and Micheluzzi, Riley contributed to a group aggregate of 19-under par to establish a two-stroke lead from Rebecca Zhao (68) with Max Fischer (69) a further shot back at two-under.
A member of the Pymble Golf Club Pennant team, Riley is coached by former PGA TOUR winner Nathan Green, intending to lean on Green’s vast experience before teeing it up in the final group with Jones and Felton.
The first group will tee off at 7.16am AEDT on Sunday with the final group schedule to start at 1.20pm. TV coverage is on Fox Sports and Kayo from 1.30pm.
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