Tournament article


Jones hits the front with sizzling 63

Jones hits the front with sizzling 63

Australian veteran Brendan Jones produced a superb finish to grab a share of the lead at the halfway stage of the Heiwa PGM Championships in Ibaraki on Friday.

Rejuvenated from a three-week break back home, the 47-year-old added a superb seven-under-par 63 to his opening 67 at the PGM Ishioka Golf Club thanks to a splendid run of an eagle and four birdies in his last six holes.

He had earlier turned in 34 by overcoming a bogey on the third hole with a pair of birdies on the sixth and ninth.

At 10-under par 130, Jones shared the top spot with Keita Nakajima and they led by just one shot from overnight leader Rikuya Hoshino, with international pair American Chan Kim and Brad Kennedy another shot back alongside three others in tied-fourth.

Jones, who's struggling to impress all year long, surprised even himself with his scintillating finish that spark his hopes of adding a title number 16, three years after he lifted his last at the Token Homemate Cup in 2019.

After making just one cut in his last eight starts, Jones decided to return to Australia to recharge. And it has certainly done him a whole world of good.

"The finish was incredible, it's funny because my year has been horrible. My game has been very poor," said Jones, whose best result this year was a tied-21st at the BMW Japan Golf Tour Championship Mori Building Cup.

"I went back to Australia for three weeks to see my old coach and talked to some professionals that have helped me along the way.  It has changed my thoughts, the way I think.

"Today I started nervously and played the first four holes rather poorly. It was very scrappy, got up and down from a long way on two, hit it in the water on three.

"But once I birdied the sixth, that calmed me down a little bit. From there, I played really, really well. The last six holes were pretty impressive.

"I wasn't expecting that because in my head I was counting down the holes just to make the cut. I haven't made many cuts this year.

"I just kept hitting really good shots. One thing I did today that I have not done all year is that all my good shots were not complemented with good putting.

"So, it's to see some putts going in.

"There are still 36 holes to go and that's still a long way to go. I'll just try to stay patient and keep doing what I'm doing."

Kim traded four birdies against a lone bogey to stay within striking distance of his eighth JGTO title while Kennedy also had the same scorecard to keep himself firmly in contention for his first victory in four years and fourth overall.

American Todd Baek shot a 67 to be tied for ninth and three shots off the pace.