Canberra based golfer Brendan Jones is this week playing in one of his very few Australian Opens, with his last foray into the tournament coming in 2008 at the Australian Golf Club.
There is a good reason however for one of Australian golf's most accomplished and highly regarded, yet least recognised, golfers to have been absent from the local scene as much as he has.
Jones has played the Japan Golf Tour for nearly all of his now 12 year professional career, the only real exception coming when he played the Nationwide, then the PGA Tour in 2004, 2005 and some of 2006.
The flagship events of the Japan Golf Tour come late in the year and typically those events have clashed with the three big events of the Australasian Tour and so something has had to go.
Despite Jones' love of spending time in Australia, it would be those events that had to give way.
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The former Australian Amateur Champion gained his card for the Japan Tour late in 2000 for the 2001 season and has gone on to win just under $A10,000,000 on that tour alone in addition to the monies he has earned elsewhere.
Jones has won twelve titles in Japan including three in 2007, a season which saw him finish third on the Japan Tour money list.
In that 2007 season Jones won the prestigious Visa Taiheiyo Masters after holing a 60 foot putt across the last green for eagle at the Taiheiyo Golf Club to defeat Japanese ace Toru Taniguchi and Australians Adam Scott and Geoff Ogilvy.
Jones made a foray into the USA after securing his card for the PGA Tour halfway through the 2004 Nationwide Tour season. He won the La Salle Bank Open in Chicago that year and finished runner-up on two occasions before heading back to Japan to finish the season there.
It was an amazing year as he won two events in Japan and secured his PGA Tour card in the one season.
He played well enough on the PGA Tour including when runner-up to Jason Bohn at the BC Open but after another half season in the US in 2006 he had had enough and headed back to the lifestyle he enjoyed better - namely playing the Japan Golf Tour in two and three week stretches by commuting to and from Canberra.
Earlier in the year in Japan he had won and finished runner-up so those efforts, along with a back problem that was not helped by trans-Pacific travel, forced the issue.
It was the right decision as he would go on to produce a record year in 2007 and has continued to play in Japan ever since except when his world ranking or his efforts in Japan have afforded him the chance to play Major Championships and World Golf Championship events.
Jones has had another great season in Japan during 2012, winning twice and earning $A1,100,000.
Jones is recognised as one of Australia's most gifted players. Compared to many others he does not practice hard when away from the game but rather enjoys having a hit with his friends at Royal Canberra.
Jones's putting is good enough to have won him the titles and the money he has but it is still the area of his game that bothers him the most. He uses the long putter and has done for so much of his professional career and will no doubt be forced to consider other options in the years ahead. It might work in his favour as he regularly expresses frustration with his lack of success on the greens.
When the good ball strikers like Jones play, however, missed opportunities are perhaps accentuated because they create more than most.
With wife Adele and his two sons, 5 year old Kieran and one year old Curtis, to draw him back to Canberra whenever he gets a break, he sees a lot of a plane during the ten hours to and from Sydney to Tokyo, a trip he undertakes as many as ten times a year.
Jones has a game more than capable of winning an Australian Open.
He has occasionally beaten stronger fields than he will face at the Lakes but even if he does not win this week he will enjoy his Australian experience and the chance to play in front of family and friends for one of the few times he gets the opportunity to do so.
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