JJ Spaun punches ticket to the Masters with Valero Texas Open triumph

By Sports Desk April 03, 2022

JJ Spaun landed the Valero Texas Open title after coming back from a double-bogey on the first hole to shoot 69 in the final round, clinching a place at the Masters in the process.

Spaun finished two strokes clear of the field on 13 under par, with Australian Matt Jones and American Matt Kuchar sharing second place at 11 under.

With his win, the Californian became the first player since Tiger Woods in 2008 to win a PGA Tour event after double-bogeying the opening hole of the final round.

The 31-year-old went bogey-free the rest of the way, collecting birdies on the sixth, eighth, ninth, 11th and 14th holes – giving him a birdie on the par-five 14th hole in all four rounds.

It is the first PGA Tour win of Spaun's career, and with it, he punched his ticket to Augusta National in just a few days.

Spaun said the scale of his achievement was hard to believe.

"I think a year ago to even be on tour I would have been telling you I'd have to do a lot of work to get there," he said.

"But to be here, and to overcome a lot of things and finally get a win, that's everything you dream of. It's incredible. I'm speechless."

On his early double-bogey and how he recovered, he said the moment actually calmed him down.

"It didn't bother me as much as you would think – if anything, it kind of calmed me down," he said.

"I knew there was still a lot of golf, and I would rather double the first hole than the last hole, so I just knew if I stayed patient and kept plugging away and put myself in contention with nine holes to play, that's all I could ask for."

The best performances from the fourth round were a pair of 66s posted by Jones, who finished second, and Keegan Bradley, who jumped up into a tie for eighth.

Among those one stroke worse on the day with 67s were Canadian Adam Hadwin, who finished in a tie for fourth, and Jordan Spieth, who was at even par coming into the round and flew up the leaderboard into a tie for 35th at five under.

Of the three joint-leaders with Spaun coming into Sunday's play, Beau Hossler finished the highest, tied for fourth at 10 under after shooting even par; South African Dylan Frittelli dropped one stroke and tied for eighth; and Brandt Snedeker ended with a whimper, finishing three over for the round to fall to a tie for 18th.

After a scorching start to the week saw Russell Knox as the outright leader with a first-round 65, he followed it with rounds of 76, 71 and 76 again to finish the weekend where the cut-line was at even par.

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