It seems only fitting that J.J. Spaun has a connection to Tiger Woods considering the latter has had the collective golf world hanging on edge with his “will he or won’t he play the Masters” news.
Spaun likely won’t mind, however, as he became the first player since Woods at the 2008 US Open at Torrey Pines to start a final round of a PGA Tour event with a double-bogey and go on to win, taking the Valero Texas Open after emerging from a crowded leaderboard with steady play while others struggled.
Spaun was clutch at many moments on Sunday en route to a three-under 69 and his first career PGA Tour title. At the ninth at TPC San Antonio, he had a “mic drop” moment when his approach went long, struck a microphone in the grass, then proceeded to hole out his pitch – his third hole out of the week.
At the 11th, Spaun knocked a gap wedge in tight that led to a birdie and the lead when a bogey by Beau Hossler made for a two-shot swing.
There was more to come. A clutch up and down from the bunker on 14 included a nine-foot putt for birdie on the par 5. A solid stroke on a six-footer for par at the 15th also was indicative of his play on the greens over the weekend with his well-worn Scotty Cameron by Titleist prototype. Spaun did not miss a putt inside 10 feet over the final 36 holes. For the week he was third in putts per green in regulation. He also tied for the most birdies with 23, all of which were needed to help offset a double-bogey in each of the last two rounds.
There was success off the tee as well with his Ping G425 LST driver (the low-spin version of the G425 line) with a Fujikura Ventus Black 6X shaft. Spaun used his 9-degree driver to rank 10th in stokes gained/off-the-tee, picking up nearly three shots on the field.
In other words, Tiger-like play for a guy who ranked as low as 584th in the world as recently as last year. It also meant not only did he erase the bad feelings from the only other time he held or shared the 54-hole lead (the 2017 Shriners Children’s Open where he faded to T-10), but will play in the Masters next week for the first time as well.
What J.J. Spaun had in the bag at the 2022 Valero Texas Open
Ball: Srixon Z-Star Diamond
Driver: Ping G425 LST (Fujikura Ventus Black 6X), 9 degrees
3-wood: TaylorMade SIM, 15 degrees
5-wood: Callaway Mavrik, 18 degrees
Irons (4-PW): Srixon ZX7
Wedges: Cleveland RTX ZipCore (50, 54, 60 degrees)
Puttter: Scotty Cameron by Titleist prototype
[IMAGE: Getty Images]