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Sam Jones defends Muriwai Open title

Sam Jones Charles Tour golf
Taranaki left-hander Sam Jones defending his Muriwai Open title. PHOTO: GOLF NZ

DP World Tour player Sam Jones has won back-to-back Muriwai Open titles in dominant fashion, claiming his third Charles Tour victory.

Although he won by two shots on Sunday, his lead never looked in danger despite the chasing pack throwing everything they had at him. He finished 15-under-par after rounds of 73, 65, 63, and 72, ahead of fellow DP World Tour member Kazuma Kobori.


Conditions were vastly different from the first three rounds, reflected in the final day's scoring, with 29 of the 62 players who made the cut shooting sub-par scores.

Winds never gusted above 20 kilometres an hour today, compared to rounds one, two, and three, where they gusted upwards of 50 kilometres an hour alongside some heavy rain, which caused a four-hour suspension of play on Friday.

After equalling the course record in dire conditions yesterday, Jones entered the final day with a comfortable four-shot lead over Chang Gi Lee, who also equalled the course record in round one. Jones got off to a solid start, making two birdies, an eagle, and a bogey in his opening nine holes to make the turn in three-under, extending his lead to eight.

However, as Kazuma Kobori kept throwing birdies at him, Jones started to slip, dropping shots at 13 and 14. When Kobori birdied 15, the deficit was reduced to two, but Jones held on over the next few holes, dropping one more shot at the last like Kobori ahead of him, which was enough to secure a comfortable victory.

He said it was a relief to get over the line.

“It got a bit tight down the stretch! I saw Kazuma was making a run and Chang Gi had a few looks on the back nine that slid by. I’m very happy and glad to get the job done.”

Even though he did not have his A-game, Jones said the Charles Tour was the perfect place to test his skills against elite competition before heading back overseas to play on the DP World Tour.

Since returning to New Zealand, Jones has played in four Charles Tour events in preparation for US Open final qualifying in May, the European swing of DP World Tour events, and a couple of starts in China and Japan if he makes those fields.

“Coming back and playing these events is a great opportunity to get tournament golf under my belt. There is nothing like playing tournament golf – I was nervous out there today, even with the big lead. It’s also different playing with nerves – the body moves a bit differently and I have different tendencies that seem to come in.

“We’re also playing for a good chunk of money, so if you’re not doing well on the main tour, you can come here and make a little bit,” he smiles.

Chang Gi Lee wrapped up third place on 12-under-par, while Bay of Plenty representatives Mitchell Kale and Jessica Green secured the low amateur and low women’s titles.

The Charles Tour takes a break over winter and will resume in September for the Mount Open.


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