19 Feb 2021 | Professional golf |
Jones front and centre in LA
by Mark Hayes
Riviera has been a happy hunting ground for Australian golfers, so it’s no surprise to see the southern cross prominent on the Genesis Invitational leaderboard again.
The time-honoured Los Angeles event, on a course featuring many Australian traits, is led by American Sam Burns at seven under after round one.
But the in-form Matt Jones is front and centre in the chase, with all five Australians at par or better and well in the mix.
Jones, who has made nine consecutive cuts since October and sits 57th on the FedEx Cup standings, carded a fine four-under-par 67 to share fourth place.
Adam Scott, Marc Leishman and Cam Smith all showed more than the odd glimpse of flair in each shooting 69, while Cam Davis signed for a 71.
Sydneysider Jones, coached by Gary Barter at The Australian, credited his short game for his good score.
“It was scrappy, but that's going to happen on this golf course. It's about managing misses and trying to get up and down out here and I was able to do that,” said Jones, who hit just 50 per cent of greens in regulation today after starting his round with birdies on the 10th and 11th holes.
“My short game, putting is very good. My ball-striking is still leaving a lot to be desired and it has for a long time, since we restarted.
“I'd love to get my coach over, but he's stuck in Australia and they have to quarantine for two weeks when they go back to Australia, so I can't really make him do that.
“I just have to keep going with what I've got.”
Defending champion Scott, with a brand new putter in his bag, was also exemplary on the greens.
The Queenslander hit just eight greens in regulation, yet remarkably gained more than five strokes on the field with his putting, according to PGA Tour stats.
“I felt pretty good out there, but I just didn't hit it as good off the tee as I was hoping,” Scott said.
“But it's a course I'm comfortable on, so even hitting it poorly, I kind of feel like I know how to get it around. I putted very nicely.
“(My putter is) actually two inches shorter than my other putter, that's the main difference, but just something I've been experimenting with.
“I felt like the work I did with Paul from Scotty Cameron got this putter in a place where I felt it was worth the run. I've been happy with my putting, too, so it was something to keep me entertained, I think.”
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