Nick Jones one round away from competing in US Open
Nick Jones is on “top of the world” after reaching the final stage of qualifying for the 123rd US Open Championship.
The Port Royal Golf Course teaching professional shot a bogey-free, four- under 67 to top the leaderboard by one shot over Americans Reid Howey and Danny Yustin, at the Local Qualifier hosted by Cold Spring Country Club in Cold Spring Harbor, New York.
Jones’s brilliant round included two birdies either side of the turn and peaked with a spectacular eagle at the par 5 16th.
“I feel on top of the world,” an elated Jones told The Royal Gazette. “It confirms that I have been doing the right things in my practice.
“I also carded a bogey-free round, so I was very happy that my hard work is paying off and I’m looking forward to the upcoming year.”
The 33-year-old hit 15 greens in regulation and was on top of his short game, saving par on four occasions to keep his round going.
“I got up and down really well,” Jones added. “I made some great saves from off the green and I was actually more excited about the par saves because they kept my round going.
“I made four really good saves for par where I had to scramble from the rough and bunker and convert the putts to keep my momentum going.
“The putting still needs work but I have a few weeks to sharpen it.”
Jones was forced to call upon his short game on the opening hole, a par 5, where he had managed to rescue a par after running into difficulty.
“It was actually a very good par,” he added. “After a poor drive and hard recovery shot, I had 215 yards for my third shot and hit the green from the rough lie. So I started off the round with a par on the first hole, which got the ball rolling.”
A confidence-boosting birdie at the par 4 fifth gave Jones an inkling that he was going to have a good round.
“The hardest hole was the fifth hole but that was my first birdie,” he said.
Jones was unable to convert a birdie attempt at the ninth green which left him one under at the turn, but better fortune awaited him at the beginning of the back nine as he got up and down for birdie on the par-4 10th hole to reach two under.
Jones missed the green on 15 but his short game again came to the rescue as he holed out for eagle to dip to four under and clinch his spot in the final round of qualifying in dramatic fashion.
“After saving a great par on 15, I came to the par 5 sixteenth where I went for the green in 2 and just missed it,” he added. “But I ended up holing out for eagle and securing my spot in the second stage of the US Open qualifier.”
American William Thornton was tied with the Bermudian with two holes to play but fell off the pace after carding successive bogies.
“He bogeyed the last two holes to give me the low man for the day,” Jones said.
“Honestly I wasn’t playing or shooting the scores I was hoping coming in, but I’m glad it all came together this time.”
Jones managed to achieve his objective despite having been denied an opportunity to familiarise himself with the course on the eve of the qualifier.
“I arrived to New York on Friday and planned to play a practice round,” he added. “However, due to heavy rain I was not able to play, so when I shot my score it was the first time playing on the course.”
Jones will now look to make further inroads when he competes in the final round of qualifying at the Canoe Brook Country Club in Summit, New Jersey, on June 5.
“Most likely they don’t have a final field yet because there are still more qualifiers going on,” he said. “But I am coming back to prepare and focus on improving my game before the next round.”
This year’s US Open Championship will be hosted by the Los Angeles Country Club in Los Angeles, California, on June 15 to 18.
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