A five-metre par-saving putt at the 72nd hole was enough for Brendan Jones to hold fellow Australian Matthew Griffin at bay and record his 15th Japan Golf Tour victory at the Token Homemate Open in Nagoya.
Absent from Japan’s season opener for the past seven years, Jones shot a seven-under 64 in the final round at Token Tado Country Club to break a three-year title drought and prevent good mate Griffin from winning his maiden title in Japan.
The pair began the final round two shots off the lead but it was Jones who made a significant move early courtesy of a birdie at the par-4 first hole and an eagle at par-5 fourth.
Further birdies at six, 11, 12 and 14 gave Jones a three-shot advantage with four holes to play but Griffin wasn’t going away. With birdies at four of the five closing holes, the Victorian played the back nine on Sunday in six-under 30 to heap the pressure on the experienced Jones, who missed putts for birdie at 15, 16 and 17 and after he found the fairway bunker with his tee shot at 18, proceeded to hit his second shot into the spectator stands.
“At that moment I was afraid Matt was going to catch me,” Jones said as he cradled the trophy.
After using his putter from off the green, Jones was left with five metres for par – “It felt longer than five metres” – and looked up to the sky when he rolled it into the cup.
The 44-year-old admitted after his win that after wrist surgeries in 2013 and 2014 the concept of retirement had crossed his mind, but with more than ¥1 billion in career earnings in Japan there is some life in the old boy yet.
For Griffin, it was another near miss. Given that he played the final 12 holes in eight-under par there was little more he could do, simply left to pay respect to the “king of Japan” for his victory.
While Jones and Griffin completed the quinella there were a number of other Aussies not far behind. Won Joon Lee built on his excellent 2018 campaign with a seventh-place finish, Dylan Perry a shot further back in a tie for eighth. There were two more Aussies – David Bransdon and Brad Kennedy – and Kiwi Michael Hendry also in the top 20 with Anthony Quayle also qualifying for the weekend.