Jones plays off carpet at PGA hospitality tent during trouble-filled round
SHEBOYGAN, Wis. — If they handed out trophies for viral video, Matt Jones would have that prize wrapped up. Yes, his pitching wedge off the blue carpet in the hospitality tent near the ninth fairway was one to watch again and again.
Problem was, that wasn’t nearly the worst trouble he found himself in Saturday at the PGA Championship.
The Aussie’s fun, funny afternoon spent atop the leaderboard turned into something much different — and worse — when the sun started setting over Whistling Straits.
Jones never really got control of that swing that caused him to land his tee shot on the artificial turf in the Ninth Hole Skyboxes.
He played three of the last four holes out of the rough, and worse, and made two bogeys and a double. He finished the third round at 1-over 73 on a day where leaders — and seemingly everyone else — were going low.
Jones came in at 10 under for the tournament, with four players between himself and leader Jason Day, who started the day two behind his fellow Australian and ended up five shots ahead of him.
"Golf runs like that," Jones said. "And it got me in the end."
Now, about that shot.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) August 15, 2015
Jones hooked his tee shot so badly on No. 9, he found himself climbing the stairs, shouldering his way through a crowd of a few hundred of his newest, bestest beer-drinking buddies in the tents left of the fairway.
What he discovered was a perfect lie — like something you’d see on the mats at the local muni driving range. He chose to play through instead of taking relief in the trampled-down grass, down below, outside the tent.
"It was very exciting up there," said his caddie, Shannon Wallis, who was surrounded by fans, beer and cameramen while Jones lined up the shot.
Wallis got the yardage — 154 — from a sprinkler head down below, then all Jones needed was to grab his wedge and take a few practice swings to make sure his backswing wouldn’t tick the top of the tent. No problem. He rocketed the shot over the white picket fence and ended up pin high, just off the green.
"I hit it perfectly," Jones said. "I just had the wrong line."
Saving bogey from the hospitality tent is never anything to sneeze at, though. With that, he carried a one-shot lead over Day into the back nine.
It was long gone by the time he reached the 17th tee box, and things got even worse when he hooked the tee shot into a gnarled thicket down among the bunkers to the left of the green, not far from a 23-foot-high wall made of railroad ties. Jones’ first attempt to get on the green ricocheted off the wall. He flipped it over on the second shot but missed a 10-foot putt and made double bogey.
By then, he trailed by five and was happy to get up and down for par from 50 feet in the fringe on No. 18 to keep the deficit from getting any bigger.
How did he sum up his wild and weird day?
"I’m definitely not out of it," Jones said.
Certainly, the fans on No. 9 would drink to that.