Mixed emotions for Jones as he falls one short
Australian Open bliss, heartbreak, anger and frustration - Canberra's Brendan Jones experienced them all as he missed out on lifting the Stonehaven Cup by the smallest margin on Sunday night.
After one of the most dramatic final rounds in Australian Open history at The Lakes in Sydney, Jones spent almost an hour as the clubhouse leader before veteran Peter Senior stole first place with a par on the 18th hole.
When the final group finished the 18th, it was nearing darkness after destructive winds had caused a three-hour weather delay.
Brendan Jones finished second in the Australian Open on Sunday. Photo: Getty Images
Jones finished the tournament at three-under par, while the 53-year-old Senior turned in a sublime final round to finish at four under.
The 37-year-old had to settle for second place and while he was left disappointed at missing his third win of the year, the fact he made a charge to the top despite atrocious conditions was worth celebrating.
Having to sit nervously while Senior completed his final five holes was torture for Jones.
Australian Open 2012
John Senden contemplates the treacherous conditions. Photo: Brendan Esposito
But in the end Senior showed nerves of steel under pressure to clinch the win, leaving Jones with mixed emotions and knowing he could have taken his first major Australian tournament title.
''The heartbreaking thing is that it was only one shot in it at the end of the day,'' Jones told The Canberra Times.
''I gave it a good run … you win some and you lose some. I was more nervous sitting down and waiting because when you're not in control of what's happening, it's obviously a lot harder.
Jones braved some awful weather on the final day. Photo: Getty Images
''You have to take your hat off to Peter, he's been a champion in Australian golf for a long time and he did what he had to do.
''If you're going to get beat by someone, you want to get beat by a champion of Australian golf. As disappointed as I am not to win, I'm going to look back and be very proud of my performance.''
Jones played in arguably the most difficult conditions of the tournament.
Jones acknowledges the crowd after finishing the final round. Photo: Getty Images
He was stuck in brutal winds on Saturday afternoon and was out on the course when officials suspended play on Sunday because conditions were unplayable.
It was a controversial decision after Jones had issues with the wind moving his ball on the second green and his tee shot on the third hole was whipped into the trees by the wind.
The other contenders for the title were still in the clubhouse waiting to tee off when play was called off.
But after the damage had been done, play was called off for more than three hours.
When Jones resumed, he scored a double bogey on the third and a bogey on the fourth before regathering his composure.
''To be honest, I think I've been out in the worst of it the past two days,'' Jones said.
''I was quite annoyed when they blew the siren [to suspend play], I was hoping they would call it 20 minutes earlier when the balls were rolling around all over the place.
''I was really, really disappointed and angry that I dropped four shots in the first four holes and pretty much played myself out of the tournament.''
His stretch from then on was superb and one of the best performances of the day.
On the final seven holes he fired four-under par - including an eagle on the 17th - but others failed to make bogeys.
With wife Adele by his side, Jones watched as Senior made par on the last to secure his win.
His young sons, Kieran and Curtis, missed the finish and were instead back at the hotel in bed.
He was happy with second place after a strong year on the Japan Tour where he finished third on the money list.
But nagging away inside was the feeling he could have won the Australian Open had he got the rub of the green.
''I played well enough to win it, definitely,'' Jones said.
''I've made three double bogeys this week and a lot of bogeys and still finished three-under.
''It's hard to take right now, but I'm sure after a few beers tonight I'll feel pretty good about it.''
Jones' focus now turns to what he hopes will be a victory at the Australian PGA at Coolum this week.
Fellow Canberran Matt Millar started the day level with Jones.
However, he couldn't get control of his game in the tough conditions and finished in a tie for 23rd place at four-over par.