J.J. Spaun goes nuclear after opening double bogey, wins Texas Open
A miracle shot, J.J. Spaun said Saturday night, “kind of fires me up.” Now, before you scoff — when doesn’t that happen, right? — there’s maybe something more to this. During Thursday’s first round of the Texas Open, he had been treading water, holed out for eagle from 87 yards out on the 8th at TPC San Antonio, then peeled off a four-under back nine. During Saturday’s third round, he did it again, chipping in on 13 for birdie, then finishing with three more birdies.
So when he pitched in for birdie on the 9th? Somebody call the fire department.
Spaun birdied the 11th to take the lead. He birdied the 14th to extend it. And he dropped putt after putt to hold onto it. Spaun finished with a three-under 69 and a 13-under total, which was two strokes ahead of Matt Jones and Matt Kuchar, and three ahead of Adam Hadwin, Troy Merritt, Charles Howell III and Beau Hossler, and the win was his first on the PGA Tour.
The victory also sends Spaun to next week’s Masters, where he’ll make his first appearance at Augusta National, and fourth major championship start overall. It also comes just under four years from a health scare — earlier this year, Golf Channel reported that Spaun had been misdiagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 2018 (he has Type 1), began to lose weight and subsequently struggled.
“I went through two years of struggling,” Spaun told Golf Channel.
All this, too, came after an unsightly double bogey on the 1st on Sunday, which dropped him out of the share of the lead that he started the day with — NBC reported that Spaun was the first player to win after making a double bogey on the first hole of a final round since Tiger Woods at the 2008 U.S. Open.
At one point on Sunday, five players shared the lead. Then Spaun made his move. He birdied 6 after hitting his second shot to 5 feet. He birdied the 8th after coming up just short of the green on the par-5, pitching to 2 feet and dropping the putt. On 9, from left of the green and 50 feet away, Spaun went up and in.
After the birdies on 11 and 14, Spaun held on, though knee-knockingly so. On 15, he rolled in a 6-footer for par. On 16, a 5-footer. On 17, a 3-footer. At that point, he was 30 of 30 on putts inside 10 feet over the weekend. On 18, after a slight scare after a drive left, he made it 31 of 31.
“A year ago, to even be on Tour, I would have been telling you I would have had to do a lot to get there,” Spaun said on NBC. “To be here and to overcome a lot of things and finally get a win, man, that’s — it’s everything you dream of.
Off to the Masters, where if the results this season are any indication, it should be a fun one.
The leaderboard breakdown
— Brandt Snedeker, Beau Hossler, Dylan Frittelli and J.J. Spaun begin the final round with a one-shot lead. They are at 10-under, Scott Stallings is at nine-under, Matt Kuchar is at eight-under, and Maverick McNealy, Si Woo Kim, Aaron Rai, Denny McCarthy, Troy Merritt, Charles Howell III, Gary Woodland, Brendon Todd and Kevin Chappell are all at seven-under.
— Spaun double-bogeys the 438-yard, par-4 1st hole, and he falls out of the lead. Snedeker, Hossler and Frittelli are all at 10-under, Matt Jones, Stallings and Kuchar are at nine-under, and seven players are at eight-under.
— Frittelli bogeys the 1st, and he drops out of the lead. Snedeker and Hossler are at 10-under, Jones, Merritt, Stallings, Kuchar and Frittelli are at nine-under, and six players are at eight-under.
— Kuchar birdies the first two holes and pulls into the lead. Kuchar, Snedeker and Hossler are at 10-under, Jones, Merritt, Stallings and Frittelli are at nine-under, and six players are at eight-under.
— Hossler bogeys the 601-yard, par-5 2nd hole, and he falls out of the lead. Snedeker and Kuchar are at 10-under, Jones, Merritt, Stallings, Hossler and Frittelli are at nine-under, and two players are eight-under.
— Hossler rebounds on the next hole, the 172-yard, par-3 3rd, with a birdie, and he moves back into a share of the lead. Kuchar, Snedeker and Hossler are at 10-under, Jones, Merritt, Stallings and Frittelli are at nine-under, and two players are eight-under.
— Jones continues his rise up the leaderboard. He birdies the 594-yard, par-5 8th — his fifth birdie of the round — and he pulls into the lead. Jones, Snedeker, Hossler and Kuchar are at 10-under, Merritt and Frittelli are at nine-under, and four players are at eight-under.
— Frittelli pulls into the lead with a birdie on the 484-yard, par-4 4th. Frittelli, Jones, Kuchar, Snedeker and Hossler are at 10-under, Merritt and Stallings are at nine-under, and two players are at eight-under.
— Snedeker falls out of the lead with a bogey on the 388-yard, par-4 5th. Jones, Kuchar, Hossler and Frittelli are at 10-under, Snedeker, Merritt and Stallings are at nine-under, and three players are at eight-under.
— Hossler chips in from off the green on the 387-yard, par-4 6th, and he takes a one-shot lead. He’s at 11-under, Jones, Kuchar and Frittelli are at 10-under, four players are at nine-under, and three players are at eight-under.
— Frittelli birdies the 8th to briefly move into a share of the lead, then Hossler matches with a birdie. Hossler is at 12-under, Frittelli and Spaun are at 11-under, and six players are at nine-under.
— Hossler bogeys the 451-yard, par-4 10th, and he falls into a share of the lead. Hossler and Spaun are at 11-under, Jones, Merritt and Frittelli are at 10-under, and Keegan Bradley and Gary Woodland are at nine-under.
— Spaun birdies the 422-yard, par-4 11th, and he moves into the lead. He started with a double bogey, then birdied 6, chipped in for birdie on 8, pitched in for birdie on 9 and birdies 11. He’s at 12-under, Hossler is at 11-under, Jones, Merritt and Frittelli are at 10-under, and Bradley and Woodland are at nine-under.
— Spaun birdies the 550-yard, par-5 14th after hitting into a greenside bunker on his third shot, and he takes a two-shot lead. He’s at 13-under, Jones, Merritt and Hossler are at 11-under, and Adam Hadwin is at 10-under.
— On the 599-yard, par-5 18th, Spaun hits his drive left, hits out, hits over the green and two-putts to clinch the victory, his first on the PGA Tour
The final word
“It didn’t bother me as much as you think. If anything it kind of calmed me down. … I’d rather double-bogey the first hole rather than the last hole.” — Spaun on NBC on his double bogey on 1.