Jones ends 'tough' seven-year drought with Honda Classic triumph

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(Reuters) - Australian Matt Jones won the Honda Classic on Sunday to end a seven-year drought on the PGA Tour and turn the page on what he said was at times a challenging stretch in his career.

The Sydney-born golfer's last tour victory came at the 2014 Houston Open, when he edged Matt Kuchar in the first hole of a playoff with a 42-yard chip in for birdie.

He did not allow it to be as close at PGA National in Florida on Sunday, firing a final round two-under-par 68 to win by five strokes.

"I've had some tough times between then and now," he said while fighting back tears.

"Sorry, pretty emotional. Seven years. I just worked hard. I worked hard with my coach back in Australia Gary and it has finally paid off."

Sunday's win guarantees Jones entry into next month's Masters, the first major of the year.

He should arrive in Augusta brimming with confidence after the superb ball-striking display he put on over the last four days.

"To be honest, I struck it amazing," he said.

"I have a funny text that I sent someone. Because I was hitting it pretty good on Tuesday, Wednesday, I said that if someone beats me this week, they have cheated.

"I was pretty confident going into the week, which is not normal for me.

"I can go prep for Augusta, which is nice. Last time I had four days to prepare and it was a bit tough, so I'm looking forward to it."

The Masters begins on April 8.

(Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles; Editing by Toby Davis)