Matt Jones is one of those tour players you’ve certainly heard of, but probably don’t really know much about – even for an Australian audience. Such is the case with players who grind out nice careers on tour, which Jones has been doing since 2008. The affable Sydneysider has won twice on the PGA Tour, the latest being his win at last week’s Honda Classic and he has amassed more than $US15 million in earnings during his career. He spoke with Golf Digest equipment editor Mike Johnson about his affinity for muscle-back blade irons, the key fairway-wood switch he made earlier in the season and why he had a toy phone in the bag during the final round at the Honda.
You have the same model of irons that you won with in 2014. What about those irons resonates with you and how many sets have you had since that win in Houston?
I’ve never kept track of how many sets I’ve been through, but I’m sure it’s been a few. The shape is terrific. I think I’ve used an MB blade ever since I first met Jim Ahern from Titleist when I was 16 years old back in Australia. That’s when I first started using a Titleist MB iron, and I’ve used them ever since. They’ve been in my bag for about 25 years now. I have a good history with them.
Conversely with the driver, you’re in the more recent TSi2. What about it works for you and how do you have the adjustable hosel set?
I don’t change stuff much, especially with the driver. Once I find a driver I like it’s a tough club to get out of my hands. I actually switched to the TSi3 originally, but after the US Open at Winged Foot I went to the TSi2. It got me closer to the ball flight I was looking for. I think we saw at Honda that it suits my swing. I drove the ball phenomenally well on a course where you have to do that to succeed. As for the hosel, I have it in the upright setting. I have a little longer shaft in the driver, so it kicks a little differently. Having it a little more upright I’ve found helps.
What is it about a blade putter as opposed to a mallet that you like?
I have always been a blade guy. I came over to go to college at Arizona State and ever since then I have had a Scotty Cameron Newport-style putter in my bag. The traditional look suits my eye, and I’ve found that the speed control is so much better for me personally than a mallet. I’ve tried mallets and they’re great on the shorter putts, but the long putts and the ones where you need to get the speed just so I’ve found the blade is just far superior.
A lot of tour pros tell me that fairway woods are the most difficult club to get comfortable with. Is a fairway wood more difficult to get right than others because it is part fairway wood and part second club off the tee?
I just switched to this head and loft at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. I was having some trouble shaping the fairway wood the way I wanted to, so I changed to the TSi3 head with 16.5 degrees of loft. But we took the loft down to bring the spin down a little, and it’s been amazing. It’s the one club I’ve always had trouble getting comfortable with, but I have had no issues with this one. I can flight it high or low and shape it how I want.
Anything unique about your wedges from a grind or bounce standpoint?
I use a D-grind on my 60-degree, which is high bounce. I probably have more bounce than most people would. I don’t enjoy a sharp leading edge. The way I chip and pitch the ball, I like to use the back of the club as much as I can, so I need more bounce to do that. That helps even more out of the bunkers than chipping. Having that bounce when in fluffier sand really helps the club get through.
Growing up as a young golfer, what was the first club that you really, really, really wanted to have?
There actually wasn’t a specific club I wanted but when you’re young all you want to do is hit it as far as you can. I was always excited when I got a new driver. I’d take it out and see how far I could make the ball go. I also would get excited when I found a Titleist golf ball. I remember being 12 or 13 and always walking the golf course searching through the bushes for golf balls. Every time I found a Titleist golf ball it was like finding a piece of gold.
What’s the most unusual or personal thing you keep in your bag?
I normally don’t have anything, but Sunday at Honda I did something I would never have done before. My three-year-old daughter has this little toy phone that she plays with and pretends to call people with. She put it in my suitcase when I left the Players. I knew Sunday at Honda was going to be a stressful, hard day. I put the phone in my bag and when I had a bit of tension or stress out there, I had that phone to look at to keep me calm. I did it a couple of times but thankfully I didn’t have to do it too often.
You had a FaceTime call with Greg Norman after you won and I understand you met him when you were 6 years old. Did you know who he was at that age?
Oh yeah. Definitely. Growing up in Australia at that age, we’d wake up and watch golf and see him playing the Masters or the Open Championship. Greg Norman was my idol growing up and it was an amazing experience to meet him and for him to take the time to speak with me meant the world to me.
Tell me something about you people wouldn’t know from reading your tour bio or such?
I used to be a pretty good soccer player. When I was 17, I had to choose between playing soccer and golf. I think I made a wise decision.