Jones nabs MSGA match play tournament titleThomaston man continues red-hot links performances this summer
South Portland — Ricky Jones of Thomaston might be due for a new trophy case.
Competing in the Maine State Golf Association match play championships this week at Sable Oakes Golf Club, Jones outlasted Jeff Cole of York (York Golf & Tennis Club) in the finals 6 and 4 on Thursday, Aug. 14 to nab the coveted tournament crown.
The event began Tuesday, Aug. 12 and concluded Thursday, Aug. 14.
The 42-year old now has, in addition to his newest tourney win Thursday, three Maine Amateur titles, five Paul Bunyan championships, a Maine Open crown, six Mid-Maine Amateurs, is a three-time U.S. Amateur qualifier, a three-time Publinks qualifier and a four-time Mid-Amateur qualifier, not to include other countless Midcoast and state tourney accomplishments.
The Midcoast Sports Hall of Fame member qualified for the Mid-Amateur Championship earlier this month, which will be played Sept. 6-11 at the Saucon Valley County Club (Old Course) in Bethleham, Pa.
“I've been working on my game [and] I felt really good going into it,” said Jones of the match play tourney. “Obviously I qualified for the U.S. Mid-Am so I've been trying to prepare for that and prepare for the final tournaments I've got for the year. Just shows the work is paying off.”
Jones, playing out of the Samoset Resort in Rockport, bested Scott Weymouth (Woodlands Club) 4 and 3 in the Round of 32, and won a marathon 21-hole match (including 3 playoff holes) over John Hayes IV (Prouts Neck Country Club) in the Round of 16 to finish Tuesday's play.
On Wednesday, Jones bested Brian Angis (Biddeford-Saco Country Club) 2 and 1 in the quarterfinal and Mike Doran (Sable Oaks Golf Club) 6 and 4 in the semifinal round to advance to Thursday morning's final against Cole.
Jones did not find himself even one hole down at any point during his five matches.
In the finals against Cole, Jones drained birdies on the second, fifth, 12th and 14th holes, with the 14th hole par-5 proving the match-winner for Jones.
“I was definitely in control most of the way,” said Jones. “I played really well throughout the match, obviously, I only made one bogey. Most of the holes it was him trying to save a putt to tie me on the hole rather than the other way around.”
Jones birdied the second hole to go one up and once he birdied the par-5, 460-yard fifth hole to go two up, he knew he was playing well enough to win.
“I just knew if I didn't make any mistakes from that point, I was going to be pretty much in control,” Jones said. “It was his first time in the final of a major championship, so I figured for him it might be a little tough to handle as far as confidence-wise getting down early. In match play if you get down early, you start to press and the pin is difficult, you hit clubs you normally wouldn't hit off the tee and stuff like that.”
The match with Hayes IV was tight throughout, but Jones took an early lead after he holed a 102-yard shot on the par-4 411-yard fourth hole to card an eagle.
Jones then three-putted on the 13th hole to allow Hayes IV to draw even, but the duo played even the rest of the way until Jones made a 12-foot putt for par on the third playoff to close it out.
Jones had mentally conceded the match, at least momentarily, when he “didn't hit a very good tee shot on the second [playoff] hole and he [Hayes IV] hit it right down the middle.”
“He hit his second shot over the green and I punched out of the woods and hit my third shot down by the green,” said Jones. “He chipped it seven feet by and then I almost chipped it in, but then he missed the putt to win.”
Persistence certainly paid off for Jones, who has a few more tournament to prepare for in the coming weeks, which he hopes ends with him bringing home even more hardware.
For that new trophy case, perhaps.