Coming into the event, J.J. Spaun was without a PGA Tour victory in 146 starts. On his 147th, the American secured not only his first PGA Tour title, but the final spot at next week's Masters, which gets underway on Thursday 7th April.
Beginning the final round, the leaderboard couldn't be much tighter, with a four-way tie between Spaun, Brandt Snedeker, Beau Hossler and Dylan Frittelli setting up a thrilling climax at the Valero Texas Open.
However, for Spaun, his day couldn't have started much worse, with an opening double-bogey putting him instantly on the back foot. For the 31-year-old though, none of the pack were running away with the lead, as competitors struggled around the TPC San Antonio layout.
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Following his disastrous start, Spaun battled back extremely well, with birdies at the 6th, 8th and 9th getting him back to one-under-par for the day and into a share of the lead, as was the lack of scoring going in Texas!
His momentum carried through to the back nine also, with an excellent approach to three-feet at the 11th, setting up his fourth birdie of the day to take him one-shot clear at the top of the leaderboard.
That advantage was soon doubled, with a crucial birdie putt from nine-feet dropping in for a two-shot advantage over a field that were perhaps thinking about the available spot at Augusta National next week.
Coming down the stretch, Spaun holed yet more crucial putts, with the American producing classy par saves at the 15th, 16th and 17th, before a wayward tee shot was yet again recovered on the 18th. Setting up another par save, the 31-year-old secured a two-shot win and, in the process, became the ninth first-time PGA Tour winner this year so far.
Speaking after his victory, the 31-year-old said: "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, 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."
Not only did Spaun claim his first PGA Tour victory, but he was also the first player to win on the PGA Tour after starting his final round with a double-bogey since Tiger Woods at the 2008 US Open at Torrey Pines.
Speaking about his opening double, Spaun didn't seem to be phased by it, with the American stating: "It didn't bother me as much as you would think, if anything it kind of calmed me down. 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."
Spaun will now head to Augusta National, where he will make his tournament debut and just his fourth Major start of his career.
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Matt joined Golf Monthly in February 2021 covering weekend news, before also transitioning to equipment and testing. After freelancing for Golf Monthly and The PGA for 18 months, he was offered a full-time position at the company in October 2022 and continues to cover weekend news and social media, as well as help look after Golf Monthly’s many buyers’ guides and equipment reviews.
Taking up the game when he was just seven years of age, Matt made it into his county squad just a year later and continues to play the game at a high standard, with a handicap of around 2-4. To date, his best round came in 2016, where he shot a six-under-par 66 having been seven-under through nine holes. He currently plays at Witney Lakes in Oxfordshire and his favourite player is Rory McIlroy, despite nearly being struck by his second shot at the 17th during the 2015 BMW PGA Championship.
Matt’s current What’s In The Bag?
Driver: Honma TW747, 8.75°
Fairway Wood: TaylorMade Rocketballz Stage 2, 15°, 19°
Hybrid: Adams Super Hybrid, 22°
Irons: Mizuno MP54, 5-PW
Wedges: Cleveland 588 RTX 2.0 Tour Satin, 50°, 56°, 60°
Putter: Cleveland TFI 2135 Satin Cero
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
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