J.J. Spaun became the ninth first-time winner on the PGA Tour this season and earned a special prize, a berth in his first Masters this coming week.
The 31-year-old Spaun, from Los Angeles and San Diego State, bounced back from a double-bogey 6 on the first hole to shoot 3-under-par 69 and win the 100th anniversary Valero Texas Open by two strokes over Matt Jones of Australia and Matt Kuchar on the Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio in San Antonio, Texas.
“It’s incredible and I’m speechless,” Spaun said of winning in his 147th start on the PGA Tour and earning a trip to Augusta National. “I was thinking about it last night, but there was still so much to be done and you’ve got to do your best to stay in the present. I think that’s what guys who win do the best of that week, staying in the moment and focusing on each shot at a time. Fortunately, I was able to do that and ended up with the W.
“I couldn’t help but think about (the Masters) out on the course, but I had to keep my concentration out there, and I just did my best to stay in the present. I hit a bad shot on the first hole and made a double bogey, but I didn’t let it bother me because I knew there was a lot of golf left to ed played. I didn’t let it slow me down and just kept plugging along. That was just one bad shot and I didn’t hit too many more.
“I’ve gone through a lot of struggles, but I’ve been working hard and there are a lot of people who helped me get to where I am.”
Spaun, whose only other pro victories came in the 2015 Staal Foundation Open9n the PGA Tour Canada and the 2016 News Sentinel Open on what is now the Web.com Tour, birdied three of the last four holes on the front nine and added two birdies coming hole while making several clutch par saves to record a score of 13-under 275.
Kuchar, who needed a victory to play in his 13th consecutive Masters, made two costly bogeys in another 69, while Jones collected five birdies on the front nine and three more on the last four holes in a 66 that equaled the low score of the day.
Adam Hadwin of Canada birdied five of the last seven holes to card a 67 and was three shots back in a tie for fourth with Troy Merritt and Charles Howell III, who both finished at 69, and Beau Hossler of Rancho Santa Margarita, who was near the lead before making a double-bogey 7 at No. 15 on his way to a 72.
Keegan Bradley birdied four of the last seven holes to equal Jones’ 66 and finished four down in a tie for eighth with Matthias Schwab of Austria, who sank a 13-foot eagle putt at No. 13 in a 68, Gary Woodland and Brendon Todd, who both totaled 70, and Dylan Frittelli of South Africa, who came in at 73.
Defending champion Jordan Spieth warmed up for the Masters by closing with a bogey-free 67 to tie for 35th.
For complete results, visit https://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard.html