Jones takes medalist honors at Champions q-schoolSILVIS, IL - JULY 12: Matt Jones of Australia hits his drive on the 11th hole during the first round of the John Deere Classic held at TPC Deere Run on July 12, 2012 in Silvis, Illinois. SILVIS, IL - JULY 12: Matt Jones of Australia hits his drive on the 11th hole during the first round of the John Deere Classic held at TPC Deere Run on July 12, 2012 in Silvis, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Cohen/Getty Images)December 04, 2012
CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. -- Gene Jones (Orlando, Fla.) shot a final-round 2-under 70 to post a three-stroke victory and claim medalist honors at the 2012 Champions Tour National Qualifying Tournament at the par-72 TPC Eagle Trace. Jones finished with a 72-hole total of 13-under-par 275 and finished three better than rookie Jeff Brehaut (Los Altos, Calif.).
This marks the second time Jones was the medalist in this event. He shared those honors with Rick Rhoden when the event was staged here in 2007.
Jones, who led by as much as five strokes on the back nine, made things interesting on his way home. He had his problems for the second day in a row on Nos. 12 and 13, making bogey-double bogey. As a result he watched his lead shrink to just one, but from that point on, he was mistake free and closed with birdies on Nos. 16 and 17 to pull away from Brehaut.
"I had the same problem on 12 and 13 again as I did yesterday. You just never know what's going to happen. I put two bad swings on it and I probably should have hit 3-wood on both of those, but its Tour school and you just can't let up at any time," Jones said. "No matter how old you get, q-school is still a bear, but I've done it before and I felt pretty good when I started."
Jones will enjoy exempt status for the first time since 2010. He finished inside the top 30 in both 2008 and 2009.
"It's been a crazy couple of years." Jones added. "I had problems with kidney stones back in 2010 while on Tour and then didn't play at all in 2011 and in just five events this year. I felt good playing here at this course. I've had some success here and it was a little bit of a benefit for sure coming back here."
Runner-up Jeff Brehaut is in a peculiar position since he won't turn 50 until June 13. As a result he will have to wait nearly six months to make his debut when the 2013 campaign gets under way.
"The Tour told me I could come to the school and if I made it I'd probably get in four events. I wasn't sure what to expect but my game has been pretty good and I'm thrilled with how it went," said Brehaut, a club pro in northern California.
The other three qualifiers were Mark Mouland (Kenilworth, England), Jim Rutledge (Victoria, B.C., Canada) and John Riegger (Henderson, Nev.). However, like Brehaut, Riegger won't be able to make his debut until June when he turns 50. Brehaut and Riegger share the same birthday -- June 13.
With Brehaut and Riegger not becoming eligible until June, Chie-Hsieng Lin (Taipei, Taiwan) and Esteban Toledo (Irvine, Calif.) will be fully exempt until June. They claimed the sixth and seventh spots, respectively, after the playoff.
Five other players earned conditionally-exempt status for 2013. They include Anders Forsbrand (Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.), Neal Lancaster (Smithfield, N.C.), Jeff Freeman (Orlando, Fla.), T.C. Wang (Taipei, Taiwan) and Steve Jones(Scottsdale, Ariz.).
The top 30 finishers and ties will be eligible to compete for spots in open qualifiers at all co-sponsored events on the Champions Tour in 2013.