Brendan Jones completes remarkable New Zealand Open triumph

Brendan Jones only just made the cut at the New Zealand Open. By Sunday afternoon, he’d claimed the winner’s trophy.

Millbrook, NZ Open 2023, Golf, Millbrook, Arrowtown
Brendon Jones celebrates winning the NZ Open with the Brodie Breeze trophyon day 4 at the 102nd New Zealand Open, The Millbrook Golf Resort, Arrowtown, New Zealand. Saturday 4 March, 2023. © Photo: Andrew Cornaga /

Media release

A five-hour wait to see whether he’d made the cut has become a remarkable New Zealand Open triumph for Australian Brendan Jones.

Out in the eighth group of the day on Saturday after his 36-hole total of four-under just scraped inside the cut-line, Jones shot nine-under 62 in Round 3 and then backed that up with a five-under 66 in Sunday’s final round to win by three at the Millbrook Resort.

He began the final round four strokes adrift of 54-hole leader Shae Wools-Cobb but took little time in elevating himself into the logjam at the top of the leaderboard.

As Wools-Cobb made a disastrous start with a bogey and double bogey to start his final round, contenders came from all corners.

Sydney’s John Lyras (64) was the first into the clubhouse at 15-under at which point there was a five-way tie at the top.

Jones was among those but separated himself with a birdie on the par-5 14th and then a sensational 8-iron shot into the par-3 15th that he thought, momentarily, may have even gone in.

Despite flirting with the out of bounds right of the green with his second, Jones added a birdie on 17 to get to 18-under. After holing out with a regulation par on the par-3 18th was doused in champagne by 12 mates who flew in the day prior and roared home every par save and birdie try of his final round.

“This is just incredible,” said Jones in his post-round interview with Sky Sport NZ.

“I ground my arse off those first two rounds because I didn’t have my best stuff and then yesterday, that round was pretty special.

“I two-putted from about 60 feet on the last hole, holed a nice little five-footer which, at the time, I didn’t think too much of.

“Without that, I wouldn’t be here.

“I don’t know what’s happened but I’ve won it and I played some pretty awesome golf, for an old guy anyway.

“It’s a dream come true.”

Aware that the 54-hole front-runners had come back to the pack early in the round, Jones set about adding his name to the mix before producing two shots he rates among the greatest of his career.

“I’ve hit probably two of the greatest shots I’ve ever hit back-to-back on the par 5 and then the par 3,” Jones said of his shots into the 14th and 15th greens.

“That second shot into 14 was probably the best 3-wood I’ve ever hit in my life and to then hit that 8-iron into the following hole was unexpected but, at the same time, I felt like I knew where the ball was going.

“It’s nice to be able to do that while I’m nervous and under pressure.

“A lot of my friends have won this – Matty Griffin, Brad Kennedy – plus all the legends that have come before me.

“To have my name engraved on the trophy is going to be pretty special.”

A 15-time winner on the Japan Golf Tour – the last of which was the 2019 Token Homemate Cup – Sunday’s win also marks Jones’s first official title on the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia.

For the majority of the afternoon, the 102nd NZ Open appeared destined for a playoff.

There were 20 players within four strokes of the lead with nine holes to play and then 10 within one as the final holes played out.

Queenstown local Ben Campbell (66) joined Lyras in the clubhouse at 15-under alongside Korea’s Jaewoong Eom (67) and Japan’s Tomoyo Ikemura (68) to share second but Jones showed no signs of faltering on his run home.

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