Freshly minted New Zealand Open Champion Brendan Jones is heading to Rich River, confirming his spot in next week’s PLAY TODAY NSW Open after exercising the exemption on offer for taking out last weekend’s Championship.
Jones’s victory at Millbrook Resort was his first win on home soil after a remarkable 18-win career worldwide and confirmation of his start at Rich River sets the scene for a thrilling climax to the chase for top honours on the ISPS Handa PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit (OOM).
Jones’s victory brought 760 Order of Merit points, vaulting him into second place in the season-long standings behind leader David Micheluzzi.
With an exemption into the 151st Open Championship at Royal Liverpool in July just one of the spoils for taking the OOM, Jones is no doubt keen to return to the revered Championship for the first time in ten years.
Jones credited his Long-time coach, the legendary Alex Mercer, for his win and his refreshed approach to the game after almost giving it away when COVID-19 made travel to Japan next to impossible.
“I was thinking about throwing in the towel there for a little while, but Alex Mercer is just the greatest human I know.
“Without thinking that he’s doing much, he’s doing everything. Just spending a couple of hours with him changed my outlook on everything,” Jones told PGA Media after his three-stroke win at the Millbrook Resort.
The inclusion of Brenan Jones complements an already strong field, which already boasts several past winners, including defending champion Harrison Crowe and 2017 and European Tour regular Jason Scrivener.
Several other players have been added to the field, including former PGA Tour player Matthew Goggin, former NSW State team player and Current Japan player Dylan Perry, and St.Michael’s John Lyras, who has got his Asian Tour off to a flying start following Last weeks runners-up finish to JOnes in New Zealand.
In the Order of Merit race, Micheluzzi still leads; however, Jones’ win saw the Canberran jump into second place. Lyras’ runner-up finish in Queenstown elevated the St. Michael’s gun up 28 spots from 40th to 12th and within reach of the top ten.
ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit (through NZ Open)
1. David Micheluzzi 1,031.67 (13)
2. Brendan Jones 803.67 (2)
3. Cameron Smith 772.76 (2)
4. Andrew Martin 652.13 (12)
5. Tom Power Horan 609.23 (12)
6. Michael Hendry 528.01 (6)
7. Min Woo Lee 470.00 (2)
8. Adam Scott 456.05 (2)
9. Deyen Lawson 446.46 (13)
10. Jason Scrivener 431.30 (3)
Must play a minimum of four events to qualify for the Order of Merit