Matt Jones claims a hot putter is the only thing he needs to breakthrough in the Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club after surging to second place in the opening round.
Jones fired a tidy four-under-par 67 on the iconic Los Angeles layout to sit just one shot behind big hitting American Dustin Johnson (66) who sat alone at the top when darkness halted the first round with just 15 players remaining on course.
At a career-high 85th in the world, Jones is longing for a breakthrough win in the USA, which has eluded him in his 151 starts so far.
The 33-year-old’s best finish was a runner-up result late last season at the Greenbrier Classic.
“The way I have been hitting the ball the last couple of weeks I feel every hole can be a birdie hole but I have been putting terribly,” said Jones, who was in contention two weeks ago at the Phoenix Open when leading through two rounds before fading on the weekend.
“My putting and chipping is the only thing holding me back as I know I can hit it as good as most guys out here when I am playing well.
“It was terrible at Phoenix on the weekend and last week was abysmal.
“But today I made a couple of putts coming in that were over a foot which was nice and hopefully I can keep that going.
“I am working hard on my putting and we are trying different things just so I can see a line on the green.
“I played well today but I need to be up there after the third round when it counts for something and then make it happen on Sunday.
“The goal is certainly to start winning and head for the top 50 in the world rankings.”
Marc Leishman was the next best Australian after a two-under 69 left him in a tie for 19th while Aaron Baddeley, the 2011 champion, was left to rue a disastrous three-putt from inside three feet that led to a double bogey.
He finished at one-under with a hole to play, where he was joined by Greg Chalmers (70) as the only other Australians under par in a tie for 35th.
John Senden and 2001 event champion Robert Allenby shot rounds of 71 while Stuart Appleby and Steven Bowditch were a shot further back at 72.
Former US Open champion Geoff Ogilvy struggled to a round of 74.