J.J. Spaun has punched his ticket to the Masters after firing a three-under-par to claim the first victory of his career at the Texas Open.
The journeyman world No.242 from Los Angeles recovered from a disastrous double-bogey opening hole to card five birdies and 12 pars to finish on 13 under for the tournament at San Antonio.
Australia’s Matt Jones, who finished with a six-under-par 66, and Matt Kuchar (69) finished two off the lead tied for second on 11 under.
Watch Every Round of The 2022 Masters at Augusta National with Fox Sports on Kayo. New to Kayo? Try 14-Days Free Now >
Canada’s Adam Hadwin, Troy Merritt, Charles Howell III and overnight co-leader Beau Hossler were a further shot back on 10 under.
The first tournament PGA Tour victory of Spaun’s career means he will now claim the last available spot at next week’s Masters in Augusta – the first time he has played in the iconic tournament.
Spaun’s entry at Augusta will be only the third time ever he has played in a major, following a 35th place finish at the 2018 PGA Championship and a missed cut at last year’s US Open.
“To be here and finally get a win — it’s everything you dream of,” said Spaun, whose win came in his 147th start. “It’s incredible. I’m speechless.” Spaun’s final round 69 was good enough to see him edge clear of a crowded leaderboard.
Spaun had been part of a four-way tie for the lead after Saturday’s third round alongside Hossler, Brandt Snedeker, and South Africa’s Dylan Frittelli.
However Spaun’s co-leaders were all unable to mount a challenge. Spaun’s short game around the green provided the momentum for his final round rally after his opening double-bogey.
He bagged a birdie on the eighth after chipping to within inches of the cup, and then followed that up with a chipped birdie on the ninth which carried 50 feet and into the hole.
A superb tee shot on the par-three 11th left him with a four-footer for birdie and then another birdie on the 14th – playing out of a bunker before draining a nine-footer to go to three under.
From there Braun played it safe down the stretch, nervelessly making a string of tricky par putts to close out the round without dropping a shot.
Spaun is the first player to win a PGA Tour event after double-bogeying the first hole of a final round since Tiger Woods won the 2008 US Open at Torrey Pines.
“Honestly it didn’t bother me as much you would think,” Spaun said of his opening double-bogey.
“If anything it calmed me down. I knew there was still a lot of golf and that I’d rather double-bogey the first hole then the last hole.”
Spaun is now looking forward to a Masters debut in Augusta this week. “It’s something you dream of as a kid, playing the Masters,” Spaun said. “I was thinking about it last night, but there was so much I still needed to do win. Fortunately I was able to stay in the present and get the win.”
Jones was pleased with the performance despite falling just short of a berth at Augusta.
“It was a good weekend. I had a good round going Thursday and let it slip, and then Friday I just played poorly and made a couple of mistakes and those mistakes are what cost golf tournaments out on this tour because everyone’s so good,” Jones said.