Valero Texas Open: JJ Spaun claims maiden win and secures Masters debut | Golf News

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JJ Spaun salutes the crowd on the 18th green as he wraps up victory at the Valero Texas Open

JJ Spaun salutes the crowd on the 18th green as he wraps up victory at the Valero Texas Open

JJ Spaun claimed his maiden PGA Tour victory and secured an invite to The Masters for the first time as he held his nerve over the closing stages to win the Valero Texas Open.

The 31-year-old American carded a three-under 69 in the final round at TPC San Antonio to finish on 13-under 275, two ahead of Matt Jones and Matt Kuchar.

He also became 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.

Spaun, who began the day in a four-way tie for the lead, missed the first green left with his approach and then three-putted for that disastrous start, but, with none of his rivals pulling clear, he was firmly back in contention after birdies at the sixth, eighth and ninth, chipping in from 50 feet out of the left rough at the latter hole.

An excellent approach to three feet set up another birdie at the 11th which took him one clear at the top of the leaderboard and he doubled his advantage by nailing a nine-foot birdie putt at the 14th.

Spaun has been deadly from inside 10 feet all week and he holed crucial par putts at the 15th, 16th and 17th before overcoming a wayward tee shot on the 18th with another par to become the ninth first-time PGA Tour winner this year so far on his 147th start.

‘Everything you dream of’

After securing the win, Spaun 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.”

And on his opening double-bogey, he added: “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.”

It’s something you dream of as a kid, playing at The Masters and 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 that win do the best that week, staying in the moment and focusing on each shot at a time and fortunately I was able to do that and ended up with the ‘W’.

JJ Spaun on playing in The Masters

Australian Jones, who had five birdies on a flawless front nine, emerged from the pack to set the clubhouse target on 11 under with a six-under 66, although he missed an 11-foot birdie putt at the last which would have applied further pressure on Spaun.

He shared second with veteran American Kuchar, who came up short with a 69 despite playing some bold shots in the closing stages as he looked to extend his run of consecutive major appearances to 28, but his failure to win means he will miss The Masters for the first time in 13 years.

Brandt Snedeker, Beau Hossler and Dylan Frittelli had shared the lead with Spaun on 10 under overnight but they all struggled to make an impact in the final group.

Hossler fared the best of the trio and led on 12 under after a birdie at the eighth but slipped back with a bogey at 10 and double-bogey at 14 where he thinned a bunker shot through the green into an unplayable lie.

He eventually finished with a level-par 72 to share fourth on 10 under with Adam Hadwin (67), Troy Merritt (69) and Charles Howell III (69), while Frittelli (73) was back on nine under and Snedeker (75) seven under.

English duo Richard Bland (72) and Aaron Rai (73) finished in a tie for 29th on six under along with Scotland’s Martin Laird (70).

Jordan Spieth warmed up for The Masters with a five-under 67 to lift himself to five under for the tournament, the same score as Robert MacIntyre after the Scot closed with a 69.

The Masters – Live

April 4, 2022, 5:00pm

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Woods to make late call on Augusta National

Tiger Woods will make a “game-time” decision over whether he will make his long-awaited return to action at The Masters, in what would be his first major appearance since last February’s career-threatening car crash.

Woods has not featured in a top-level event since playing at Augusta National in November 2020, with the former world No 1 unable to compete on the PGA Tour since suffering career-threatening injuries in a serious car crash last February.

The 15-time major champion made an impressive comeback alongside his son, Charlie, at the PNC Championship in December but was still non-committal on a return date when discussing his future at the Genesis Invitational in February, saying he “didn’t know” when he would next compete.

Tiger Woods practises at Augusta National on Sunday ahead of The Masters

Tiger Woods practises at Augusta National on Sunday ahead of The Masters

Woods fuelled speculation about a major return when he went for a practice round at Augusta last Tuesday, just a few days after footage appeared on social media of him playing Medalist Golf Club.

On Sunday he continued practice at Augusta, and tweeted: “It will be a game-time decision on whether I compete.”

Woods is scheduled to hold a press conference at Augusta National at 11am local time on Tuesday (4pm BST) when the five-time Masters champion is set to reveal much more about his fitness and whether or not he still plans to compete.

When is The Masters live on Sky Sports?

What time does The Masters coverage start? What extra feeds are available? How can I follow the action from Augusta National? Our guide to watching the opening men’s major of the year live on Sky Sports Golf.

Monday April 4

1700-1900 – On the Range LIVE!

1900-2200 – Live from The Masters

Tuesday April 5

1400-2200 – Live from The Masters

Wednesday April 6

1400-1900 – Live from The Masters

1900-2230 – The Masters: Par-3 contest LIVE!

Thursday April 7

1400-1930 – Featured Groups LIVE!

1930-0030 – The Masters: Day one LIVE!

Red button (exact timings TBC) – 1330 On the Range, 1430 Holes 4-6, 1545 Amen Corner, 1645 Holes 15-16, 1830 Featured Groups

Friday April 8

1400-1930 – Featured Groups LIVE!

1930-0030 – The Masters: Day two LIVE!

Red button (exact timings TBC) – 1330 On the Range, 1430 Holes 4-6, 1545 Amen Corner, 1645 Holes 15-16, 1830 Featured Groups

Saturday April 9

0900-1200 – Masters Breakfast LIVE!

1500-1930 – The Masters build-up LIVE!

1930-0030 – The Masters: Day three LIVE!

Red button (exact timings TBC) – 1515 Featured Groups, 1530 Holes 4-6, 1600 On the Range, 1645 Amen Corner, 1730 Holes 15-16

Sunday April 10

0900-1200 – Masters Breakfast LIVE!

1500-1830 – The Masters build-up LIVE!

1830-0030 – The Masters: Day four LIVE!

Red button (exact timings TBC) – 1515 Featured Groups, 1530 Holes 4-6, 1600 On the Range, 1645 Amen Corner, 1730 Holes 15-16

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