Seven years on from a whirlwind Masters debut, Sydney’s Matt Jones is much better equipped to contend at Augusta National – and he’s not sleeping on a couch.
Jones barely had a chance to blink before he was on the first tee in 2014 after claiming the last spot in the field via a play-off victory at the Houston Open the weekend prior.
It gave him just hours to organise flights and accommodation.
“I flew in that night, had nowhere to stay, so I stayed on Kevin Stadler’s couch,” Jones recalled of his hectic arrival to Augusta for his first shot at the Masters.
“Then Monday was a washout so found a place to stay but I didn’t get to go out on the golf course.
“I played 18 on Tuesday, nine on Wednesday, and then I was in the par-3 competition.
“It was a blur.”
With little time to take it all in Jones would shoot 74-78 to miss the cut quite easily and before he knew it his Masters experience was over.
The best part came in the earlier mentioned par-3 competition where he made an ace with his then 2-year-old daughter helping as a caddie.
Despite the disappointment at the time Jones was confident of making many a return trip but it took his second Tour win at last month’s Honda Classic to confirm a reappearance.
So the two-time Australian Open winner is prepared to make the most of it while trying to downplay it at the same time.
“Of course winning is the goal… but we know how hard it is to win,” Jones said.
“I’ve won twice on tour, so to win two in four weeks would be impressive; but it’s going to be tough.
“There’s a lot of holes out here that suit my ball flight. It’s a golf course that should visually suit my eye.
“I’m going to have to play well. You’ve got to do everything well out here.
“If I was lucky enough to hit it like I did at the Honda I’d be a chance.”
Jones arrived at Augusta on Friday and by Monday afternoon he was finishing off his third practice round, but he expected to dial it back to nine holes a day before Thursday’s opening tee shot.
“I’m trying to treat it like I would regular prep for a tournament,” the 40-year-old said.
“I’m not trying to over-prep because you can become too obsessed with trying to do things right out here.
“But I’m a better golfer than I was back then (in 2014).
“I’ve matured and so has my game.
“I can’t wait to get out there.”