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Brendan Jones ready for Tiger Woods challenge

Little-known Australian Brendan Jones will face the biggest exposure of his career when he meets world number one Tiger Woods in Wednesday’s first round at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.

Jones booked his place in the opening World Golf Championships (WGC) event of the year as one of the top 64 players in the world and was overjoyed when he heard he would take on Woods.

The game’s leading player has been sidelined by knee injury for the last eight months and his return to the PGA Tour this week was only confirmed four days ago.

“Somebody said Tiger’s announced he’s coming back and I got a few chills up the back of my neck,” Jones, 33, told reporters at Dove Mountain’s Ritz-Carlton Golf Club on Monday.

“But I’m here now and two days away from it, so I’m very, very excited. If I get beat by anybody, I would like to get beat by Tiger. It’s a chance of a lifetime, really.”

Asked to describe his emotions as he prepared to take on the 14-times major champion in a head-to-head duel, Jones replied: “I’m nervous and I’m really, really happy.

“I’m very, very excited to have that opportunity for one of the most anticipated comebacks in any sport, really. And to have a front row seat to all of it is a great honour.”

An eight-times winner on the Japan Golf Tour, Jones has previously competed in only three WGC events and accepts he will tee off on Wednesday as a huge underdog.

“I would probably put the house on Tiger but I didn’t fly all this way to try to lose,” the New South Wales professional said.

“I’m here to try to beat him, and there’s been some funny things happen in sport.

“I’m up against it but I’m hoping that I’ll put in a good effort,” added Jones, who broke into the world’s top 60 by winning the Nippon Series JT Cup in Japan in December.

Woods has clinched the Accenture Match Play Championship three times—in 2003, 2004 and by a record winning margin in last year’s final—but three of his six losses at the event have come against Australians.

He was beaten by Peter O’Malley at the first hurdle in 2002 and has twice gone down to Nick O’Hern, in the second round in 2005 and after 20 holes in the third round in 2007.

“I’m an Australian so I got some sort of chance,” Jones said with a broad grin. “Obviously I know that I’m a long shot. I have got nothing to lose.

“I can just go out, be a lot more aggressive than what I normally would be. I have some sort of chance.

“It will be a dream come true to actually play Tiger and win but I’m not going to get too carried away just yet.”


February 24, 2009

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