Australian trio secure places for Royal Troon

Matt Jones and Charl Schwartzel were the two weekend winners as a trio of Tartan Tour players stayed in the hunt for spots in next May’s BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, writes Martin Dempster.

Charl Schwartzel ended four clear. Picture: Getty Images

Jones hung on to win the Australian Open ahead of fellow home player Adam Scott and defending champion Jordan Spieth, the winner securing a place in next year’s Open Championship at Royal Troon along with Rod Pampling and Nick Cullen.

Jones, a 35-year-old from Sydney, had a three-shot lead heading into the final round at the Australian Golf Club but almost saw victory slip away as he closed with a two-over-par 73.

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He dropped three shots in the first two holes, recovered with two birdies but then ran up a triple-bogey seven at the ninth. That left him facing a real test of character on the back nine as the door was flung open for Scott and Spieth, but Jones was up to the challenge.

He birdied the 14th and 16th in a flawless back nine to finish with an eight-under-par total of 276, winning by a shot from Scott (65) and Spieth (71).

“There was a lot of stress and a lot of anxious moments, but I got the job done,” said a relieved new champion.

Pampling closed with a course-record ten-under-par 61, which was capped by an eagle at the last, to secure the second of three Open Championship spots up for grabs.

The final one went to Cullen by virtue of a higher position in the world rankings than fellow Australian Lincoln Tighe after they finished joint-fifth on three-under.

Schwartzel, meanwhile, claimed a fourth career success at the Leopard Creek course in Malelane to win the Alfred Dunhill Championship. The South African took a three-shot lead into the final round and never looked like losing despite dropping two shots in his first nine holes as he finished 15 under par.

Schwartzel finished four shots ahead of Gregory Bourdy in second and five clear of third-placed Benjamin Hebert.

“It feels good,” said Schwartzel as he made amends for letting the South African Open title slip from his grasp earlier in the year.

“I didn’t really see myself coming out and winning. This place has treated me really well. I got my first win here and now my tenth so I think it’s pretty fitting.”

Sitting inside the top five as he turned for home, David Drysdale dropped four shots in five holes to undo his good work until that point, ending up in a share of 18th on five-under after a closing 74, starting his 2016 campaign with a top-20 finish.

Scott Jamieson, the only other Scot to make the cut, finished in a share of 41st on level-par following a last-day 73.

Elsewhere, West Linton’s Gareth Wright, Greig Hutcheon (Paul Lawrie Golf Centre) and Graham Fox from Clydeway Golf are all in contention heading into the final round of the PGA Play-Offs in Turkey.

Englishman Matt Cort’s 65 lifted him above overnight leader Hutcheon (70) on six-under, a shot ahead of Wright following his 68 that saw him come home in three-under.

Hutcheon is one of three players a further shot behind, 
followed by Fox (69) on two-under.

As well as a £2,000 top prize, ten spots in the European Tour’s flagship event at Wentworth are up for grabs in Antalya.