Tracker: Jones tops Kuchar in Houston playoff

Matt Kuchar during the PGA Tour's 2014 Shell Houston Open.

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Matt Jones holed a pitch shot for birdie at the first playoff hole, the par-4 18th at the Golf Club of Houston, to defeat Matt Kuchar and record his first PGA Tour victory Sunday at the Shell Houston Open.

It's the third victory by an Australian in the last four weeks on Tour, and the win also earns Jones an invite to the Masters.

Drive, Chip and Putt winners at Augusta National.

We kept you updated throughout the final round. Here's how it all unfolded Sunday in Humble, Texas:

• • •

Update No. 24: 4:03 p.m. EDT

Matt Jones is well short of the green with his approach shot while Matt Kuchar finds the right greenside bunker. Jones then holes his pitch for birdie. After Kuchar can't hole his bunker shot, Jones gets the win and earns a Masters invite, too.

• • •

Update No. 23: 3:55 p.m. EDT

Matt Jones hits first at the par-4 18th and finds the right fairway bunker. Kuchar is in the fairway and has the early advantage at the first playoff hole.

• • •

Update No. 22: 3:44 p.m. EDT

After piping one in the fairway on the 18th, needing par to win, Matt Kuchar hits his approach shot into the water.

Kuchar then drops inside 70 yards or so, needing to get up and down to force a playoff – and wedges it inside 5 feet. He makes that putt and will face Matt Jones in sudden death, the latter seeking a trip to the Masters.

• • •

Update No. 21: 3:27 p.m. EDT

Leader Matt Kuchar pars the 17th as Sergio Garcia does the same to remain 16 and 14 under, respectively. Matt Jones has other ideas, birdieing the last to pull within a shot of Kuchar and force the issue on the final hole: A bogey by the leader would mean playoff time.

• • •

Update No. 20: 3:11 p.m. EDT

Trouble at the par-3 16th for leader Matt Kuchar means added hope for Matt Jones. Kuchar hits his tee shot into a greenside bunker and fails to convert the sand save, slipping back to 16 under.

Jones, ahead at the 17th, can't take advantage, though: His errant drive requires playing short of the green and the recovery attempt finds the rough. His third shot misses the green about 50 feet from the hole, and he gets up and down for bogey. Jones remains two shots back of Kuchar with one to play, T-2 with Sergio Garcia.

• • •

Update No. 19: 3:03 p.m. EDT

Matt Jones birdies the 16th hole to again pull within a shot of leader Matt Kuchar, getting to 15 under with two par 4s to play. On the 15th, Kuchar gets on the green of the par 5 in three and makes a birdie putt, getting to 17 under for the first time and again leading by two.

• • •

Update No. 18: 2:43 p.m. EDT

As Matt Jones pars the 15th and leader Matt Kuchar pars the 14th, time is starting to run out for the Aussie to earn a trip to the Masters; he's two back and has three to play. It's a better shot than Cameron Tringale has at this point, four back with four to play. But as we've seen earlier this year when players such as Rory McIlroy, Patrick Reed or Jimmy Walker opened up big leads, anything can happen late.

Rain continues to dot the Houston area, but bigger storms have been keeping enough of a distance from Golf Club of Houston in Humble.

• • •

Update No. 17: 2:29 p.m. EDT

A birdie at the 13th gives Matt Kuchar an extra bit of cushion and gets him to 16 under for the second time this week. Matt Jones pars the 14th and is two back with four to play.

• • •

Update No. 16: 2:14 p.m. EDT

After 10 straight pars to start his day, Sergio Garcia birdies Nos. 11-12 to move into third at 13 under, two back of leader Matt Kuchar and one back of Matt Jones.

• • •

Update No. 15: 1:53 p.m. EDT

A birdie at No. 12 gets Phil Mickelson back to even par after he derailed himself with a double bogey at No. 6 and a bogey at No. 8; he's T-16 at 6 under with five to play.

• • •

Update No. 14: 1:34 p.m. EDT

Since a bogey at the first, Matt Jones has collected six birdies in 10 holes – and that gets him into a share of the lead with Matt Kuchar at 14 under. But it only lasts a moment, as Kuchar answers with a birdie at No. 10 to move back to 15 under.

• • •

Update No. 13: 1:19 p.m. EDT

Matt Jones climbs another step, birdieing No. 10 to pull to 13 under – and within a shot of leader Matt Kuchar. Jones, of Australia by way of Arizona State, has never won on the PGA or Web.com tours.

• • •

Update No. 12: 1:01 p.m. EDT

A birdie at the last gets Rory McIlroy to a 65 and T-7 and 7 under. He's the leader in the clubhouse, which this week might equate to the leader in the air on his way to Georgia ASAP.

• • •

Update No. 11: 12:49 p.m. EDT

At the par-5 eighth, Matt Jones cards his fourth birdie in six holes – pulling within two shots of leader Matt Kuchar. Jones, like Tringale, needs a win to earn an invitation to the Masters at Augusta National coming up in days. In the group behind, Kuchar lays up for a wedge shot in.

• • •

Update No. 10: 12:36 p.m. EDT

With three birdies and no bogeys on each side, Rory McIlroy continues to have a big final round – 6 under today to rise to T-8 at 7 under. Russell Henley also is going low, 5 under through 14 holes with a front-nine bogey against six birdies. That lifts him to T-8 at 7 under as well.

Leader Matt Kuchar as well as Sergio Garcia and Cameron Tringale all par the par-3 seventh as the lead remains three. In hindsight, Kuchar (1 over for the round) clearly benefitted earlier from firing a close approach at No. 2 for his lone birdie of the day.

Storms are on the radar about an hour west of Golf Club of Houston, by the way, but moving in a direction that doesn't seem to threaten the tournament anytime soon.

• • •

Update No. 9: 12:25 p.m. EDT

Matt Kuchar's second bogey of the day comes at the par-4 sixth hole and again drops him to 14 under, yet Cameron Tringale also bogeys the hole as the lead remains three; Sergio Garcia and Matt Jones pull into a tie for second at 11 under.

Rickie Fowler's first birdie of the day comes at No. 6 as he rises to T-5 at 9 under, on that mark with Shawn Stefani.

• • •

Update No. 8: 12:12 p.m. EDT

With three birdies in four holes, including back-to-back at Nos. 5-6, Matt Jones pulls even with Sergio Garcia in third at 11 under, four back of leader Matt Kuchar.

• • •

Update No. 7: 11:50 a.m. EDT

Cameron Tringale makes his first move of the day, birdieing No. 4 to pull within three shots of leader Matt Kuchar for the second time today. Tringale needs a win to get to Augusta National for the Masters.

• • •

Update No. 6: 11:29 a.m. EDT

Phil Mickelson and Shawn Stefani birdie the fourth hole to climb to 8 under and 9 under respectively. MIckelson is playing for momentum going into the Masters, while Stefani is playing to keep his job, as our Jeff Rude put it yesterday (second item in link).

Leader Matt Kuchar pars the third hole, as do second-place Sergio Garcia and Cameron Tringale.

• • •

Update No. 5: 11:11 a.m. EDT

That was quick. Leader Matt Kuchar immediately erases his opening bogey with a birdie at No. 2 to get back to 15 under, four ahead of Sergio Garcia and Cameron Tringale – both of whom have started their day with back-to-back pars.

2011 Masters champ Charl Schwartzel is 3 under for the day, with birdies at Nos. 1, 3 and 5 having lifted him to T-8 at 7 under alongside Phil Mickelson and Jon Curran.

• • •

Update No. 4: 10:56 a.m. EDT

Leader Matt Kuchar starts his day with a missed fairway and a bogey, his second in a row dating to the 18th yesterday, and his lead is immediately down to three shots as Sergio Garcia and Cameron Tringale open with pars.

Shawn Stefani, looking to stay on Tour with a strong showing this week, birdies the second to climb to T-4 at 8 under alongside Rickie Fowler, Matt Jones and Ben Curtis.

• • •

Update No. 3: 10:39 a.m. EDT

Rory McIlroy moves to 3 under for the day, T-20 at 4 under, with a birdie at No. 8 to go with two earlier at Nos. 3-4. McIlroy might not climb all the way to his third top 10 of the season, but he'd surely take a low number today before he heads to Augusta National.

• • •

Update No. 2: 10:28 a.m. EDT

Fairway bunker? No problem for Phil Mickelson, who recovers from an errant tee shot to birdie his first hole and rise to T-7 at 7 under, eight shots back of leader Matt Kuchar – who tees off momentarily.

• • •

Update No. 1: 10:10 a.m. EDT

With about 20 minutes until leader Matt Kuchar's group tees off, 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel opens with a birdie to rise to T-12 at 5 under. Schwartzel, of South Africa, is looking for his third top-10 of the season.

• • • 

Early risers

Rory McIlroy and three other players are 2 under already, yet they're looking up at Carl Petersson who's 3 under through seven holes to climb to T-18 at 4 under.

• • •

Slow starters

John Huh double-bogeyed No. 4 to fall to 2 over for the day, T-46 at even par. A host of players are 1 over.

• • •

Weather forecast

Things are looking a little better than the meteorologists had said last night. The chance of rain has improved to 60 percent (from expectations of 90 percent yesterday) and scattered storms. Lightning could force a delay even if things don't get too wet, but for now things look worse to the north than around Houston.

• • •

Saturday's coverage

5 Things: Kuchar all smiles; Stefani's status; more

Matt Kuchar shot 68 at the Golf Club of Houston on a high-scoring day when the wind blew up to 15 mph and the greens became firmer and flags were tucked. Hence, he reached 15-under-par 201 and will take a four-shot lead over Sergio Garcia (73) and Cameron Tringale (69) into a final round that meteorologists say probably will be struck by inclement weather. With that as a backdrop, here are 5 Things you need to know about the Shell Houston Open's third round.

Tracker: M. Kuchar pulls away in Houston

Matt Kuchar has opened up a lead during Saturday's third round of the Shell Houston Open, pulling ahead of second-round leader Sergio Garcia and the rest of the field in building momentum toward next week's Masters – while making things tough on anyone hoping for a last-second invitation to Augusta. Recap the highlights of Kuchar's standout third round in Houston right here.

• • •

Friday's coverage

5 Things: Garcia surges into Houston lead; Kuchar close behind; more

Sergio Garcia came out Friday morning and fired a 7-under 65 to grab the clubhouse lead at the Shell Houston Open. Then it was Matt Kuchar's turn to go low. Playing in the afternoon, Kuchar shot 5-under 65 to end up at 11 under, one shot back of Garcia's 12 under through two rounds at the Golf Club of Houston. Here are 5 Things you need to know.

Notes: Harrington's grip trouble; Mickelson's reason to smile; more

Three-time major champion Padraig Harrington suffered problems with the middle finger of his left hand on the 15th tee of the Shell Houston Open second round and had trouble gripping the club. Meanwhile, Phil Mickelson's game had him saying things are beginning to "click" as his trip to Augusta National nears.

Tracker: S. Garcia pushes way to Shell Houston lead at halfway point

Sergio Garcia moved into a commanding lead early Friday before Matt Kuchar pulled within a shot during afternoon play, with the T-3 group another three shots back. Recap the highlights right here.

• • •

Thursday's coverage

5 Things: Haas, Hoffman lead; Mickelson, Bradley bogey-free; more

Keegan Bradley, Matt Kuchar and J.B. Holmes grabbed the clubhouse lead early Thursday during the first round of the Shell Houston Open. But more red numbers were to be had later in the day at the Golf Club of Houston, including a pair of 7-under 65s, from Bill Haas and Charley Hoffman, who hold a share of the first-round lead. Here are 5 Things to know.

Tracker: B. Haas, C. Hoffman lead after first round in Houston

Bill Haas and Charley Hoffman grabbed a share of the first-round lead at the Shell Houston Open, but those weren't the only low numbers recorded Thursday at the Golf Club of Houston. Keegan Bradley and Matt Kuchar shot bogey-free 66s while Phil Mickelson was blemish-free in shooting a 68. Recap the highlights right here.

• • •

Preview coverage

Expert picks: R. McIlroy a heavy favorite at Shell Houston Open

This week's Shell Houston Open features some of the game's elite, including Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Keegan Bradley. It could even have Phil Mickelson, depending on how his pulled muscle has healed. And our panel of experts have taken notice of the stars this week.

D.A. Points brings ancient Ping i5 irons to Houston

The divots that D.A. Points creates on the driving range are each about the size of a playing card and about a half-inch deep. After he has finished hitting a bag of balls, the grid of dirt that remains is testament to his consistency. The clubs that make those divots, his Ping i5 irons, helped the former University of Illinois star win last season's Shell Houston Open. What makes them unique is their age.

Notes: P. Mickelson's audible; D. Toms' slump; more

As always, there’s a story behind the story. In the case of Phil Mickelson missing the pro-am at the Shell Houston Open, for instance, well, no need to point fingers and make a case out of it. It’s the way the sponsors want it. In fact, it’s the way they had it last year, too. And another time before that. Sponsors reserve the right “to shift a player out of the pro-am for another sponsor function,” said a tournament director, and that’s the case with Mickelson at Houston.

PGA Tour players discuss pre-Masters no-shows

When you win the Arnold Palmer Invitational, the big prize is an audience with the man himself. The exorbitant check – this year being $1,116,000 – that comes with it is due in large part to the man who has spent the majority of his 84 years building the PGA Tour into what it is. So an inquiring mind can’t be blamed for wondering: What would have happened had Matt Every, after making the recent API his first win, thanked Palmer, then said: “Oh, and by the way, I’m withdrawing from next week’s tournament."

Change at the top defines first half of PGA Tour season

With Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson struggling, the 2013-14 PGA Tour season has not turned out like many observers would have thought. Woods has played in only three Tour events and has not been close to winning this year, while Mickelson, who withdrew with an injury during the third round of the Valero Texas Open, also has struggled. With only one more week before the Masters, the season’s first major championship, the two most important headliners in golf are questionable.

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