Jones downs Kuchar in Houston, earns Masters invite

Humble, TX ( - Matt Jones poured in a long birdie putt on No. 18 to force a playoff Sunday at the Houston Open, then chipped in for birdie and a win on the first extra hole.

With his first PGA Tour victory, Jones also earned the final spot in next week's Masters.

Jones fired a 6-under 66 to get in 15-under-par 273. Kuchar led by one in the 18th fairway, but dumped his second in the water. He got up and down for bogey to force the extra session, closing with an even-par 72.

"It's amazing. It's been a while coming. I've been out here seven years now, so it's good to finally get one. I've had a few chances, so I'm quite happy now," Jones stated.

The pair returned to the 18th hole for the playoff on the Tournament Course at Golf Club of Houston. Jones found a fairway bunker off the tee before Kuchar hit his drive right down the middle of the fairway.

Jones played short of the green in the right rough. Kuchar, from a similar spot where he was in regulation, pushed his approach into a bunker right of the green.

From a clean lie in the right rough, Jones' chip landed on the green, then rolled into the cup for birdie. Kuchar needed to match, but his sand shot checked up about 10 feet shy of the hole, and the victory went to Jones.

"The tee shot I didn't hit that great, but the second shot was in a rut and I couldn't get it on the green, so I just decided to lay it up. That was still a tough shot from there, but I've been working hard on my chipping and putting," Jones said. "I told my caddie walking up there I'd chip it in, so it was nice to do it."

Sergio Garcia closed with a 2-under 70 to grab third place at minus-13, while Cameron Tringale was one shot back after carding a 71 on Sunday. Shawn Stefani (69) took fifth at 10-under 278 and Rickie Fowler (71) was sixth at minus-9.

World No. 7 Rory McIlroy fired a 7-under 65 and was one of five players that shared seventh place at 8-under 280. Phil Mickelson carded a 71 in the final round and was one stroke behind McIlroy at minus-7.

Jones was three shots back with three holes to go. He rolled in a 15-footer for birdie on the par-3 16th to briefly get within two. Kuchar answered with a 17-foot birdie putt on No. 15.

The Australian Jones made a mess of the 17th and made bogey to again drop three back. Kuchar then bogeyed the 16th to trim his lead to two.

As Kuchar made par on No. 17, Jones poured in a 46-foot birdie putt on the 18th to get within one. Kuchar found the short grass off the tee, but pulled his second shot into the water left of the green.

Kuchar managed to get up and down for bogey to force the extra session, where Jones came out on top.

Early on, Jones stumbled to a bogey at the first to drop seven shots back. His rally started with three birdies in a 4-hole from span from the third. Jones birdied the par-5 eighth en route to making the turn at 12-under, where he was two back.

Jones birdied the 10th from 17 feet out, then converted an 8-footer for birdie try on No. 11 to get within one as Kuchar also birdied the 10th. Jones parred four in a row from the 12th to setup the dramatic finish.

Kuchar traded a bogey for a birdie from the first. He dipped to minus-14 with a birdie on the sixth.

After his birdie on the 10th, Kuchar also birdied the 13th and 15th, both par-5s, to move to 17-under, where he was three clear of Jones. However, Kuchar failed to hold that lead.

NOTES: Jones earned $1.152 million for the win ... Goosen shared seventh place and earned enough money to fulfill his Major Medical Extension, which means he has full status of the remainder of the season ... The tour heads to Georgia next week for the season's first major, the Masters, where Adam Scott will defend his title.