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Jones could tee off at Coolum and land at Augusta

Date

Jon Tuxworth

Brendan Jones.

Brendan Jones. Photo: Matt King

Thoughts of finally realising his US Masters dream haven't crossed Brendan Jones' mind, despite his late surge in the world rankings putting him within striking distance of playing at Augusta.

A win at the season-ending Australian PGA Championship beginning on Thursday could propel Jones into the top 50 for the first time, a feat which would guarantee a debut Masters spot in April.

Just a week ago Jones was the world No.104, and qualifying for the Masters appeared a pipe dream.

But after his fast-finishing second place at last week's Australian Open boosted him 32 spots to No.72, a win at Coolum could be enough to qualify for the only major he has yet to play.

Jones has come agonisingly close to Masters qualification before, having been world No.52 at the end of the year twice in his career.

While it is is a tournament he has long been desperate to play, he said reliving the euphoria of being in title contention was his focus this week.

''I don't think about it like that,'' Jones said on Wednesday. ''How I look into this week is I had a great event last week, but it didn't work out the way I want. I loved the feeling of being in contention and I want to do the same thing.

''I want to be there on Sunday afternoon in the thick of it again, knowing I didn't lose the tournament, I did pretty much all I could do, but Pete [winner Peter Senior] was tough enough to hold on.

''I feel if I get in contention again, I've been there and played well down the stretch and I can do that again.''

Jones admitted his huge leap in the rankings was more than expected, but insisted he would not be too shattered should he fall just short of the top 50 for a third time.

He has enjoyed one of the best years of his career, which has included two victories as the third-highest money earner on the Japan Tour.

''It [the US Masters] is pretty much the only tournament I haven't played that I'd love to play,'' he said. ''I've just missed out a couple of times but if I could pull this off [win this week], regardless of if I make the 50 or not, it would have been a phenomenal year.

''Coming in second last week got me more points than winning tournaments in Japan. I was a bit surprised with the jump, but am quite happy to take it.

''It [a win] would get me pretty close [to top 50]. I don't know how all of the numbers would shape up, but if I won it would certainly help.''

Jones will play without a recognised caddie for the first time this week, with Canberra businessmen John Mackay and Dave McGilvray winning a charity auction to carry his bag.

Long-time caddie Scott Bint finished his year at the Australian Open, and is now on holidays in his native New Zealand.

''We'll find out this week if I need a caddie or not,'' Jones joked.

''I'm playing with Richard Green, who I've played a couple of World Cups with, I'm good mates with him and if they stand in the wrong spot I'm sure it's not going to bother him.''

THURSDAY

Australian PGA Championship, round one at Coolum. TV time: Live on One HD from 1pm.

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