Matt Jones tied the largest margin of victory in the history of The Honda Classic, taking it by five strokes over Brandon Hagy. The 40-year-old Australian won for the second time in his PGA Tour career, his first title coming seven years ago at the Houston Open. Jones is the fourth player age 40 or older to win on the Tour this season, already doubling the total from all of the 2019-2020 PGA Tour campaign.
Jones was excellent through his bag, leading the field for the week in strokes gained tee-to-green. In fact, Jones’ total of 14.3 strokes gained tee-to-green for the week are the most by any player over four rounds at The Honda Classic since tracking of the statistic began 15 years ago. Jones ranked in the top-ten for the week in strokes gained off the tee, strokes gained around the green, strokes gained approach and greens in regulation.
It’s a rare occurrence that a player age 40 or older has a margin of victory that large on the PGA Tour. In fact, Jones is just the second player 40 or older since 2010 to win by five strokes or more. The other was another unlikely candidate: 41-year-old Ryan Armour won the 2017 Sanderson Farms by five shots, his lone career PGA Tour win.
Jones came soaring out of the gates this week, opening with 61 on Thursday. Jones is one of just 14 players in the last 30 years to win a PGA Tour event with a first round score of 61 or lower – the last being Brandt Snedeker, who shot 59 in the first round of his 2018 Wyndham Championship victory. Jones was the first player to lead after round one at this event and go on to win the tournament since Justin Leonard in 2003, when The Country Club at Mirasol was the host venue.
Justin Harding shot a bogey-free final round 66 to win the Magical Kenya Open, his second career European Tour victory. Harding finished a tournament record 21-under-par, an impressive feat in an event with past winners like Seve Ballesteros and Ian Woosnam. Harding ranked second in the field for the week in strokes gained tee to green and second in strokes gained off the tee in the final round of his win.
The European Tour will waste no time getting to its next event on the schedule: the Kenya Savannah Classic, held at the same course as last week’s event, will begin Tuesday. This is the second time in five months that the European Tour has held back-to-back events on the same course – Aphrodite Hills Resort in Cyprus hosted a pair of consecutive events in November.
After more than 190 professional starts on the PGA, Korn Ferry and PGA Latino America Tours, Roberto Diaz won for the first time at the Korn Ferry Tour’s Chitimacha Louisiana Open. Diaz, who made just one bogey in his last 36 holes, was 16-for-20 scrambling for the week, ranked fourth-best in the field. Diaz also ranked third for the week in putts per green in regulation, at 1.62.
The PGA Tour will hold two events this week: the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship in the Dominican Republic, and the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in Texas. The Corales event has already been contested once in the wrap-around 2019-2020 PGA Tour season: Hudson Swafford won it in September by one stroke over Tyler McCumber. The WGC Match Play was canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since the WGC Match Play switched to pool play in 2015, only 35% of the top-seeded players have advanced out of their respective groups into the round of 16. Upsets are still everywhere in this event: in the four years it has been held at Austin Country Club, a player seeded 50th or lower has reached the quarterfinals or further seven times.
The LPGA returns next week with the Kia Classic, the last event before the ANA Inspiration, the first major championship of the year. In 2016, Lydia Ko pulled off the double, taking the Kia Classic and then the ANA the following week. No woman has won a major championship the week after a win on the LPGA Tour since.