Former Canterbury Rep and now touring professional Shaun Jones returned to New Zealand for a summer holiday from his base in Switzerland and recently won the Duke of Gloucester Pro-Am in Napier.
Excerpt Courtesy of NZ Herald:
When Shaun Jones was here this time last year he had to secure a paper (first) wedding anniversary gift for his Switzerland-born wife, Anita. Yesterday, the Christchurch professional golfer returned to Napier Golf Club simply to win enough money on the New Zealand PGA Tour to recoup travel costs while on a six-week holiday in the country. "That was the goal, to be honest - come over and get my airfares back, which is about three grand," said the 32-year-old who now resides in the capital city of Bern while plying his trade in the Alps Tour. Jones made it a back-to-back titles when he won the 18-hole Duke of Gloucester Pro-am Tournament, after claiming the inaugural crown last year, with close to $2000 (before-tax) in prizemoney.
He carded a sizzling six-under-par 66 to finish a stroke ahead of Woonchul Na, of Auckland, while New Plymouth Golf Club professional Brad Hayward was third on four-under 68. He started "slowly with a few pars" but went on a five-birdie blitz from holes No 1 to 5 to finish with seven birdies, 10 pars and a bogey on the par-4 No10 hole, the only blemish on his card. "That birdie blitz sort of turned my two-under par into seven under and then, unfortunately, I made a bogey in my second-last hole." A grinning Jones said birdie blitzes like that didn't happen as often as professionals would have liked but, when they did, they were immensely satisfying. In the PGA New Zealand Open last year, he was eight under after eight holes in the second round to finish tied for fifth.
"It's nice to get back in the summer time. It's snowing in Switzerland so I can't really practice there so it's nice to come here to get the season off to a nice start," he said after settling in Anita's hometown of Bern nine months ago. His first major tournaments are in Cairo, Egypt, from February 13. "I fly back to Switzerland for three days then fly out to Egypt for 13 days for two events there."
Jones is indebted to his sponsors, Lincoln Farms, and Fenix. "Any win's good," he said when asked where the humble pro-am circuit here sits in the scheme of things when juxtaposed with the Alps Tour (Australia, France, Italy, Spain and Switzerland).
However, he found the NZPGA circuit the ideal tune up for shooting low scores because straying from it meant no dough.
Even a six-under like yesterday, he said, often wasn't good enough to claim a title. "Sometimes you've got to look at eight or nine [under], depending on who's here." He also won an NZPGA leg in 2016. The Cantabrian was coming off third from the Harcourts Taupo Pro-am on Sunday, two strokes behind amateur Tae Koh, of Auckland, had won with a seven-under 65.
Jones said the Alps Tour was just a case of putting the ball in the hole like anywhere else but the depth in the field of about 140 was the major difference. "All due respect to the New Zealand tour, the superstars here can compete over there but there's a lot more superstars over there." He played a dozen events, including the grand final, he made at least five cuts although he stressed to move up the leaderboard there one had to win.
Jones works with his mental coach, Scott Ritchie, of Christchurch, with some exciting changes, focusing on pre-shot and post-shot routines. Jones, who lost in the national amateur semifinal matchplay tourney at the Hastings Golf Club to Matt Jager, of Australia, in 2010, lauded his support crew. "If I didn't have them I wouldn't be able to play this game especially in Europe where last year I spent 10,000 euros and made only 6000," he said, setting sights on the European Tour although finding himself at the British Open "would be unbelievable".