Different Strokes: Jones drives home advantage to secure Masters invite

Alps Tour . . . By the Numbers . . . Word of Mouth . . . Twitter Twaddle . . . On this Day . . . In the Bag . . . Know the Rules

It isn't always just about the money. Matt Jones pocketed a payday of €1.06 million with his win in the Honda Classic . . . but he also earned a couple of perks. One of them – an exemption into next month's Masters – he knew about; the other, getting to pick any car from the Honda range, came as a surprise.

“I had no idea I get to do that. I have no idea of their whole range, so I’ll go have a look and go from there,” confessed the Australian.

While the Honda Classic win came too late to get him into the WGC-Dell Technologies Matchplay this week (even in rising up to 49th in the updated world rankings, as the cut-off date had already passed), Jones’s inclusion into the Masters field means he gets a second chance at conquering Augusta National.

On his only appearance in the tournament back in 2014, Jones missed the cut. “I can go prep for the Masters this time. Last time it was an absolute blur. I can’t remember a think about it.”


Alps Tour aims to create high achievers

For those professionals looking to take a step up the ladder, this week’s resumption of the Alps Tour – with the Mira Acayo Open in Lecce, Italy – is an important development.

The third tier circuit offers a route on to the Challenge Tour and has an upcoming itinerary that follows a number of events in Italy with visits to Egypt and France in the coming months. Four Irish players – Jonathan Yates, David Carey, Paul McBride and Simon Bryan – among those with tour cards and happy at last to get playing competitively again.

The Alps Tour is also a new starting place for those who have won big, as in Matteo Manassero: although only 27 years old, the four-time European Tour winner (once seen as an emerging superstar with wins that included the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth in 2013 to go with his earlier successes in the Castello Masters, Malaysian Open and Singapore Open) is using the Alps circuit to revitalise his career.

Once ranked inside the top-25 on the official world rankings, Manassero has fallen down to 897th in the latest listings. He is among 52 Italians in the 120-man field in Lecce.

By the Numbers: 2-2-3-3

Leona Maguire and Stephanie Meadow, following a two-week break in the schedule, return to action at the Kia Classic in Carlsbad, California on the LPGA Tour.

Shane Lowry and Rory McIlroy tee up in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play Championship at Austin Country Club, Texas.

Pádraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell and Séamus Power comprise the trio of Irishmen in action at the Corales Championship in Mexico.

Cormac Sharvin, Gavin Moynihan and Jonny Caldwell – who all missed the cut in the Kenya Open – stay on-site for the Savannah Classic in Nairobi, Kenya.

Word of Mouth

“I know where Nick was trying to come from, it’s like competitor to competitor. You’re trying to needle each other and get each other going type of thing. I am fortunate to have some great partners and make some great commercials. I would much rather be playing the week of the Masters than working. But it’s all part of it. I’m going to keep kicking down the door. If we’re able to do something special in the next few weeks before Augusta, we’ll be there. If not, we’ll keep grinding and we’ll be back in the winner’s circle soon”

– Rickie Fowler taking the high ground following criticism from Nick Faldo. Fowler isn't currently exempt for the Masters, and is set to miss it for the first time since making his debut in 2011.

Twitter Twaddle

Sitting middle seat on a Southwest flight en route to Austin for the WGC Match Play Tourney getting pictures from my coach while he's on a private jet heading there. Pretty sick – Max Homa wondering how he ended up in the cheap seats while his coach Mark Blackburn travelled in style.

Putter was levitating last week . . . let's keep it on the ground this week! Starting a new tournament at the #SavannahClassic. Let's go -–Polish player Adrian Meronk hoping his putter will behave better in the second of back-to-back European Tour events in Nairobi, with a quick turnaround to the Savannah Classic.

Despite the disappointment of having the weekend away from @TheHondaClassic I really feel I've made strides in all areas of my game. Pop up a thumb and crack on! – Matt Wallace adopting the glass half full approach in moving on to the WGC-Dell Technologies Matchplay.

On this day: March 23rd, 2014

The generation gap was all too apparent in the JTBC Founders Cup, where 39-year-old Karrie Webb produced a stunning final round course record 63 to make up a six-stroke starting deficit and overhaul 16-year-old Lydia Ko for the tournament title at Desert Ridge's Wildfire Golf Club in Phoenix, Arizona.

Webb had 10 birdies and a bogey in her round – including making a birdie on five of the last six holes for a homeward run of 30. She then had to wait 90 minutes to see if her round was sufficient to win and ultimately it was, as Ko parred the final three holes to finish a stroke back alongside Stacy Lewis, Azahara Munoz, Amy Yang and Mirim Lee.

“I didn’t expect to win outright for sure. I thought best-case scenario I was in a playoff and the other scenario going through my head was that 19 under just wasn’t going to be good enough,” said the Australian of her 41st career win on the LPGA Tour. Webb collected $225,000 for her victory and donated $50,000 of it back towards the tour’s charitable causes.

In the Bag: Matt Jones (Honda Classic)

Driver: Titleist TSi2 (10 degrees)
3-wood: Titleist TSi3 (16.5 degrees)
Irons: Mizuno MP Fli-Hi (2 iron), Titleist 712MB (4-PW)
Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM7 (52 & 56 degrees), SM8 (58 degrees).
Putter: Scotty Cameron Newport 2 GSS Prototype
Ball: Titleist ProV1x

Know the Rules

In a club handicap competition where the two best of four rounds count, a player mistakenly returns a scorecard with a higher handicap that affects how many strokes are received in the first round. Is the player disqualified from the competition?

No. In competitions where not all rounds count, a player is not disqualified from the competition for being disqualified from a single round.

Under Rule 1.3c/1, since the higher handicap affected the number of handicap strokes received, the player is disqualified from the first round of the competition and now has three rounds in which to determine their two best net scores.