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February 28, 2008

Matt Jones


DOUG MILNE: Matt Jones, thanks for joining us in the media center at the Honda Classic. Great first round today, 4-under par 66.
You're off to a great start overall in 2008, made cut so far, and things just rolling right along. If you could just take us through a couple of the highlights today and kind of what led to the 4-under 66.
MATT JONES: The highlight of the day would have been probably the 10th hole of the day. I holed a bunker shot out of the right-hand bunker and made birdie.
And then probably kept my round going, would have been the par on 13 I think. I drove it in the bunker and then hit into another bunker and had about a 50-yard bunker shot, and I hit that to about four feet and made par. That just kept the round going. If I had struggled there, having the last few holes to finish off wouldn't have been too easy. They are tough enough without any wind but with a little bit of wind today, they were pretty tough.

Q. Guys in your situation, first real chance kind of out here, sometimes they don't handle it as well as you kind of have out of the gate. How have you managed to keep it so together mentally, you know, in the early part of this year?
MATT JONES: Playing on the Nationwide Tour, you learn to. I've been out here for four years. It not like -- of course you're playing against the world's best out here. But out there you look at the number of players that come out and do well out here: Jeff Quinney last year; Camilo Villegas has done it. You're just out there playing golf. You get used to it.
I played well last year, had four seconds. So you kind of get used to being in the final group. You get a little more comfortable with it. So that's the best way I could say.

Q. Then is the approach that it's just still golf?
MATT JONES: Yeah, I have not changed my approach at all. I'm still just out there playing. I'm playing against -- I'm playing with all the guys from the Nationwide Tour now. We play the last few groups every week, so it's pretty much like you're playing in a Nationwide event. You're comfortable with the people you know from previous years.

Q. Can you talk about the No. 10 hole? You say you holed out of the trap?
MATT JONES: I hit my tee shot through the fairway into the rough and then hit into the right bunker. So I probably had a 40-yard bunker shot and just trickled down into the hole.

Q. That kept you going?
MATT JONES: It did, because 10 and 11 are not easy holes, especially when you miss a fairway and when you have a 510-yard par 4, to make birdie on it is nice.

Q. You said you had a strong year in the Nationwide last year. Was there anything particular about your game that improved there?
MATT JONES: I would definitely say course management, just understanding my golf game better what my tendencies are to miss golf shots where -- to miss a green sometimes, trust your short game.

Q. You would be roughly approximately the same age as the other Aussies over here, Aaron Baddeley, Adam Scott. Can you maybe take us back to age 12, whenever you started playing, and sort of bring us along with where you've been and what your overlap is with any of those guys --
MATT JONES: I used to play soccer, and then I used to play golf, as well. I really started playing golf fully at about 17. I had to choose between soccer and golf, so I chose golf.
But then playing junior golf, I always played against Adam and Aaron in the state competitions. Like New South Wales would play Queensland and Victoria, and Adam would be on the teams and Aaron would be on the teams. So we would have to play match play against each other. It's all been good playing against them.

Q. Did you go to either of the academies?
MATT JONES: I didn't go to the Australian Institute of Sport. I went to the New South Wales Institute of Sport for maybe -- back then it was just getting started, so I might have been there for six months.
Mainly I had my golf coach in Sydney, and I didn't want to leave him because I knew how good he was. So going to those other people, I wouldn't have been able to trust the coach that I was working with, so it would have been pointless. Then I came over here when I was 18.

Q. For college?
MATT JONES: Yeah, to Arizona State.

Q. Not to belabor this, but four seconds last year showed, obviously, you know you can play, and that probably validated on some level in your mind where your game is. Even though it's just one round and it's just Thursday, did you need something like this out here, or the way you've played so far this year to really prove to yourself that you truly belong on the big tour?
MATT JONES: I think everyone does. Your first year out here, everyone needs to see their name up on top of the leaderboard just to show yourself that you can do it. It would be a lot different if it's towards the top of the leaderboard on Sunday.
One round, anyone can go out there and shoot 66, any round, any player out here. If I can do it come Sunday, then it will be much more enjoyable.

Q. Was Casey still there when you were at ASU?
MATT JONES: Yeah, Paul Casey, Chez Reavie --

Q. A bunch of stiffs?
MATT JONES: All of us of out here now. We all played with each other except Chez.

Q. How did you guys do?
MATT JONES: Never any good. We all struggled when we played as a team. Individually everyone did well, but team-wise, it was a struggle.

Q. Do you consider yourself a late bloomer, or do you just look at it and say: It took me a while to figure out what I want to the do with my sporting career?
MATT JONES: I would have expected to be playing here earlier on, but it took me a while. And I think playing the Nationwide Tour for the last fewer years was a blessing in disguise. I might not have been ready to come out here two, three years ago. Might have been hurtful if I had. I think playing the Nationwide Tour was the best thing that could have happened.

Q. Do you think a lot of younger players maybe try to push it too hard and just try to get on the TOUR as early as possible and maybe hinders because of it?
MATT JONES: It's the goal of every player to play on the PGA TOUR, so you can't say it's too early for someone when other people take longer.
You look at Jason Day. I mean, he'll be fine at 19 or whatever he is now. And then you have your Ty Tryon who was out here and he's struggling, but he can still play golf.

Q. What's your family background? What do your parents do?
MATT JONES: My daddy is a technician and my mom is in public relations. My dad was the athlete growing up.

Q. Such as?
MATT JONES: Soccer, football, cricket, anything, surfing, whatever.

Q. Fantasy football fan?
MATT JONES: Am I? Oh, yeah.

Q. How did your team do?
MATT JONES: I was in two leagues last year. One of the leagues I did terrible, and the other one, I won.

Q. Has anyone ever asked you about playing tight end for the Jacksonville Jaguars?
MATT JONES: The quarterback from Arkansas? We are the same physical shape, aren't we? (Laughter)

Q. Are you ever been misidentified?
MATT JONES: Not at all. I don't think someone could get me mistaken for him.

Q. The accent will help.
MATT JONES: It does.
DOUG MILNE: If you don't mind just running us through your six birdies and two bogeys, maybe just what kind of led up to the bogeys and some clubs on the birdies.
MATT JONES: 3 was playing straight downwind, so if you hit in the fairway, you have a very good chance of getting birdie there. 4-iron to 20 feet and just lipped out, eagle.
4, hit driver, sand iron to about four feet and made the putt. That one's with the wind; it helped, you could drive it down and hit sand wedge close.
7, they were generous, put the tee up, only had to hit 5-iron to that pin, probably to about 12 feet.
9, I probably hit the wrong club off the tee. I hit 3-wood and had 5-iron in and sank probably a 25-footer.
10, bunker shot.
12, I just hit 3-wood off the tee and hit 8-iron to about 20 foot and just rolled that one in.
And then 17, I had a pretty straightforward putt and just blocked a 4--footer for a par.
And then that was about it. Missed a 20-footer for birdie on 18.
DOUG MILNE: Matt Jones, thanks for coming in. Best of luck tomorrow.

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