JJ Spaun landed the Valero Texas Open title after coming back from a double-bogey on the first hole to shoot 69 in the final round, clinching a place at the Masters in the process.

Spaun finished two strokes clear of the field on 13 under par, with Australian Matt Jones and American Matt Kuchar sharing second place at 11 under.

With his win, the Californian became the first player since Tiger Woods in 2008 to win a PGA Tour event after double-bogeying the opening hole of the final round.

The 31-year-old went bogey-free the rest of the way, collecting birdies on the sixth, eighth, ninth, 11th and 14th holes – giving him a birdie on the par-five 14th hole in all four rounds.

It is the first PGA Tour win of Spaun's career, and with it, he punched his ticket to Augusta National in just a few days.

Spaun said the scale of his achievement was hard to believe.

"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," he said.

"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."

On his early double-bogey and how he recovered, he said the moment actually calmed him down.

"It didn't bother me as much as you would think – if anything, it kind of calmed me down," he said.

"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."

The best performances from the fourth round were a pair of 66s posted by Jones, who finished second, and Keegan Bradley, who jumped up into a tie for eighth.

Among those one stroke worse on the day with 67s were Canadian Adam Hadwin, who finished in a tie for fourth, and Jordan Spieth, who was at even par coming into the round and flew up the leaderboard into a tie for 35th at five under.

Of the three joint-leaders with Spaun coming into Sunday's play, Beau Hossler finished the highest, tied for fourth at 10 under after shooting even par; South African Dylan Frittelli dropped one stroke and tied for eighth; and Brandt Snedeker ended with a whimper, finishing three over for the round to fall to a tie for 18th.

After a scorching start to the week saw Russell Knox as the outright leader with a first-round 65, he followed it with rounds of 76, 71 and 76 again to finish the weekend where the cut-line was at even par.

Brandt Snedeker and Beau Hossler both shot five-under-par 67 to join JJ Spaun and Dylan Frittelli atop the leaderboard, after the third round of the Valero Texas Open on Saturday.

Spaun and Frittelli bogeyed the last par-five 18th hole to finish on 10-under-par after 54 holes, shooting rounds of 69 and 70 respectively on Saturday.

It would have been a five-way tie for the lead had Scott Stallings not also bogeyed the final hole, finding the rough and then the far-side bunker on his second and third shots.

Among the many in the field who have yet to qualify for the US Masters, Matt Kuchar is two strokes back from the leaders on eight-under-par after three rounds.

In what is essentially the final qualifier for the first major of the year, and having missed the cut at Augusta last year, Kuchar is aware of the stakes.

"I think quality play trumps anything," he said.

"I'd take execution over course knowledge any day of the week. I think it's going to take just quality golf tomorrow to win this thing."

After shooting a bogey-free round on Friday, second round leader Ryan Palmer tumbled down the leaderboard on Saturday with a five-over-par 77, finishing in 21st on five-under-par.

Spaun and Hossler are both looking for their first PGA Tour win, while Frittelli last won in 2019 at the John Deere Classic and Snedeker took the Wyndham Championship in 2018.

Hossler finished with momentum on Saturday, making three consecutive birdies from the 14th hole. His career-best finish was a second at the Houston Open in 2018.

A win for Snedeker would make for his 13th trip to Augusta.

Rory McIlroy and Bryson DeChambeau were among the big names whose preparation for the 2022 Masters took a blow at the Valero Texas Open on Friday.

In the last week before the first major of the year, McIlroy, DeChambeau, Jason Day and Rickie Fowler all missed the cut.

With the cut line at one under par, McIlroy's second-round 73 left him one over, while DeChambeau was way off the pace at five over following his 76.

DeChambeau has not long returned from injury, finishing bottom of his group at last week's WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, losing two of his three matches and tying the other.

When he started with a triple-bogey on Friday, it became clear the 2020 U.S. Open champion would not be continuing into the weekend in Texas.

Meanwhile, McIlroy had been in encouraging form a month ago, but his performances have gradually declined to the point an Augusta challenge again seems unlikely.

The Masters remains the only major McIlroy is yet to win.

While the big names faltered, world number 547 Kevin Chappell excelled, finishing his second round in a tie for second place, two shots behind leader Ryan Palmer.

Once a contender on the PGA Tour, Chappell's only win came at this event five years ago.

"I just feel at ease around this place," he said after shooting a 65. "My soul and this golf course get along. I really enjoy being here.

"I'm excited about where my game is because I don't think I've played great yet.

"It's not like the ball is coming out of the middle of the clubface every time and flying where I'm looking, but I've been able to scramble and get the ball in the hole."

Ryan Palmer holds a two-stroke lead over the field after the second round of the Valero Texas Open.

Palmer, who shot four under in round one, finished with a six-under 66 to move to 10 under.

The American finished the round bogey-free, and three times carded back-to-back birdies on the second and third, eighth and ninth, and 14th and 15th.

Speaking to the media after his round, Palmer said the key to his success is to limit the severity of his mistakes.

"It's a golf course – if you get it off-line, you're going to struggle," he said. 

"I was able to keep the ball in front of me. When I've missed fairways, I've gotten fortunate breaks, I think. 

"[This] weekend, it's a matter of just avoiding those big misses."

Kevin Chappell worked his way into a three-way tie for second after he shot 65 for the best round of the day, and he is joined at eight under by South Africa's Dylan Frittelli and American Matt Kuchar.

Chappell – who is ranked as the world number 547 – played the course beautifully, nabbing an eagle on the par five second hole before going bogey-free and birdieing the eighth, ninth, 12th, 15th and 17th.

The leader after round one, Russell Knox, had a poor day, bogeying four of his first six holes on the way to shooting 76, dropping down to three under and a tie for 27th.

With the cut-line at even par, Jordan Spieth followed up his even par first round with a 70 on Friday to sneak into the frame.

Plenty of notable names who will hope to contest the US Masters crown next week failed to make the cut, including Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler and Bryson DeChambeau.

 

Hideki Matsuyama's defence of his Masters title has been left in doubt after a neck injury forced the 30-year-old to withdraw from the Valero Texas Open.

Matsuyama became the first male Japanese golfer to win a major championship with last year's success at Augusta National, edging out American trio Will Zalatoris, Xander Schauffele, and Jordan Spieth in the final round for a one-stroke victory.

However, with less than a week remaining until the 2022 edition of the Masters begins on April 7, Matsuyama withdrew nine holes into his second round in San Antonio, citing a neck injury. 

Reports have suggested that the 30-year-old has suffered a recurrence of the same injury which kept him out of The Players Championship last month, eventually won by Australia's Cameron Smith.

Matsuyama's most recent result saw him tie for 20th position at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, and he has won two PGA titles since last year's Augusta triumph, winning the Zozo Championship on home soil last October before lifting Hawaii's Sony Open in a play-off in January.

Matsuyama sits 12th in the world rankings, and has made the top 10 in four of the 10 PGA events at which he has featured in the 2022 season.

Russell Knox's bogey-free 65 earned him top spot on the Valero Texas Open leaderboard after the first round of action at TPC San Antonio.

The Scotsman was excellent all day, highlighted by his four consecutive birdies starting on the 12th hole to finish seven under.

He is one stroke ahead of Denmark's Rasmus Hojgaard, who eagled the par-five 18th to finish at six under and make up for his double-bogey on nine.

Speaking to the media after his round, Knox spoke about getting control of his driver, and the potential to play in next week's US Masters.

"I would love to win and get to play next week," he said. 

"I know my game is good, so I've got to keep playing well and see if I can have a great finish.

"I've been a little more consistent tee to green. I'm back to kind of feeling like the way I should be playing, which has been nice.

"Off the tee's been kind of important for me. Over the last couple years I just kind of got off track slightly, hitting a few wayward tee shots.

"I've worked hard with my coach, Mark McCann, and we've really gone back to fundamentals, got my set-up correct and it just gives me the freedom to kind of swing away.

"I know it's never going to be perfect, but the last couple months it's really been a strength of mine again."

Matt Kuchar and Englishman Aaron Rai are in a four-player tie for third at five under, with India's Anirban Lahiri and Australian Matthew Jones part of the large contingent at four under.

In-form Canadian Corey Conners finished tied with Richard Bland and Tony Finau with a big group at two under, with Ian Poulter and Keegan Bradley one shot further back.

It was an up-and-down round for Rickie Fowler, with his bogey on 18 forcing him to accept even-par for the day, which he shared with stars Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth.

Bryson DeChambeau and Lee Westwood highlighted the group at plus one, while Jason Day and Hideki Matsuyama will be fighting to make the cut after carding plus two.

Jordan Spieth described his Texas Open victory as "monumental" after the former world number one finally snapped a title drought lasting almost four years.

After waiting 1,351 days, Spieth celebrated a victory thanks to Sunday's triumph at the Texas Open, where the three-time major champion won for the first time since the 2017 Open Championship.

Spieth posted a six-under-par 66, which included seven birdies, for a two-stroke win ahead of Charley Hoffman and his 12th PGA Tour crown.

"This is a monumental win for me," Spieth – 2015 Augusta winner – said ahead of the Masters, which gets underway on April 8. "It's been a long road. There were a lot of times that I didn't know I would be here."

The 27-year-old and 2015 Texas Open runner-up became the 92nd player in Tour history to reach 12 wins and moved into a tie for 82nd on the all-time list.

Five players in the last 40 years have earned 12 titles before turning 28 – Phil Mickelson (27 years and 209 days), Tiger Woods (23 years and 243 days), Rory McIlroy (27 years and 124 days), Justin Thomas (26 years and 251 days) and now Spieth (27 years and 251 days).

Spieth added: "There's peaks and valleys in this sport, but I never expected to go this long.

"Back then, in between wins, maybe I took things more for granted than I should have. It's very difficult to win out here and I'll certainly enjoy this one as much as I have any other."

Spieth threatened to break through this year, having either been leader or co-leader at the Phoenix Open and Pebble Beach Pro-Am before finishing tied for fourth and third respectively.

"I've had a chance on Sundays three or four different times in the last two months, and today was by far the best that I played," Spieth said.

"Just to see those putts go in, I felt like I was doing everything right those other Sundays and I hit good putts and they wouldn't go in. Today I hit a couple that I didn't quite strike very well but they went in."

Jordan Spieth returned to the winners' circle and just in time for the upcoming Masters after celebrating a drought-ending Texas Open victory.

Not since winning the 2017 Open Championship had former world number one Spieth claimed a title on the PGA Tour.

But American star Spieth – tied for the lead at the end of the third round – ended his agonising wait at TPC San Antonio on Sunday following 1,351 days.

Spieth snapped a slump that lasted almost four years, posting a six-under-par 66 and seven birdies for a two-stroke victory ahead of Charley Hoffman (66) at 18 under overall.

Three-time major champion Spieth will now return to Augusta – the scene of his 2015 triumph – on April 8 with renewed confidence after emerging from the wilderness.

Spieth – who threatened to break through this year, having either been leader or co-leader at the Phoenix Open and Pebble Beach Pro-Am before finishing tied for fourth and third respectively – earned his 12th PGA Tour title.

The 27-year-old and 2015 Texas Open runner-up became the 92nd player in Tour history to reach 12 wins and moved into a tie for 82nd on the all-time list.

Five players in the last 40 years have earned 12 titles before turning 28 – Phil Mickelson (27 years and 209 days), Tiger Woods (23 years and 243 days), Rory McIlroy (27 years and 124 days), Justin Thomas (26 years and 251 days) and now Spieth (27 years and 251 days).

Hoffman – the 2016 champion – threatened to derail Spieth's bid to end his long wait, having moved within a shot of the lead before the latter birdied the 17th hole.

Spieth made Hoffman settle for back-to-back runners-up cheques after he finished second in 2019 prior to the 2020 event being cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Matt Wallace (70) finished outright third and four shots adrift of Spieth, two strokes better off than Lucas Glover (66).

Former world number one Jordan Spieth has put himself in another great position to end his title drought after closing the Texas Open third round tied for the lead.

Spieth has not claimed a trophy since 2017, with the three-time major champion often struggling for form on the PGA Tour.

But no other player has more 54-hole lead/co-leads on Tour this season after American star Spieth earned his third on Saturday.

Spieth carded a five-under-par 67 to be level with Englishman Matt Wallace (67) atop the leaderboard at 12 under through three rounds at TPC San Antonio, where they are two strokes clear.

Texas Open runner-up in 2015, Spieth was either leader or co-leader at the Phoenix Open and Pebble Beach Pro-Am before finishing tied for fourth and third respectively this year.

Spieth, who is nine for 18 in his career converting to victory when holding at least a share of the 54-hole lead, was red-hot on the back nine, where he did not drop a shot – tallying five birdies, including his final two holes to join Wallace at the summit.

"I didn't feel like I had great control of the golf ball," Spieth said after birdieing five of his last seven holes. "I left the ball in the right spots when it was missed and really, I did a great job managing today."

Charley Hoffman – the 2016 winner – climbed 11 positions up to third and only two strokes behind Spieth and Wallace following his third-round 65.

Cameron Tringale lost his spot at the top of the leaderboard after shooting a 73 to be outright fourth and four shots adrift, while Anirban Lahiri (69) is a stroke further back heading into the final round.

Defending champion Corey Conners finds himself eight shots behind following a five-under-par 67 – a stroke better off than Rickie Fowler (69).

American world number 99 Cameron Tringale backed up his strong opening day at the Texas Open with a three-under 69 on Friday to take a two-shot lead into the weekend.

Tringale, 33, has never claimed a PGA Tour victory but has set himself up perfectly, two shots ahead of three-time major winner Jordan Spieth and Matt Wallace.

The 12-year veteran bogeyed his opening two holes on Friday after sitting equal second after day one but responded with five straight birdies in his fourth to eighth holes.

"I just hit a lot of really good iron shots to those holes," Tringale said. “I think my furthest putt was 4 feet, so just good approaches to the green... I took advantage most of the time.”

First day leader Camilo Villegas slipped five shots back after shooting a 76, while Texas native Spieth looms after putting together two good days as he chases his first title since 2017.

The former world number one shot a two-under 70, although he started strong with two birdies including an approach within 10 feet on the first before slowing up.

"I thought the start was key for me, and I got off to a great start," Spieth said. "I put some really good swings on the ball after kind of being a little sloppy at the end of yesterday’s round."

He added: "I’m really pleased with where things are at, but they’re not where I want them to be at."

Equal second Wallace is another yet to win on the PGA Tour but he moved into contention after a four-under 68 which included no bogeys.

"Whenever you go bogey free, whatever golf course it is, it’s nice, but especially here," Wallace said.

A group of four players are two shots behind Spieth and Wallace, with Kevin Stadler, Kyle Stanley, Erik van Rooyen and Brandt Snedeker who had a birdie-birdie finish.

Matt Kuchar and Villegas are among the next group of six at four-under, while Charley Hoffman shot a day two best 66 to be tied at three-under.

Five-time major winner Phil Mickelson was unable to recover from his horror first round which was ruined by taking a 10 on the 18th and missed the cut.

Colombian Camilo Villegas got the jump on the field on the opening day of the Texas Open after shooting an eight-under 64 with Jordan Spieth among those not far behind.

After starting on the back nine with a bogey, Villegas hit six birdies in seven holes, including sinking a 20-foot putt on his 13th to claim a solid lead at TPC San Antonio's Oaks Course on Thursday.

Villegas is two shots ahead of South Korean Sung Kang and American Cameron Tringale who both had a 66.

Three-time Major winner Spieth is equal third on 65, alongside Noh Seung-Yul and Hideki Matsuyama.

"Sometimes it goes your way, and sometimes it doesn't," Villegas said. "The last few years I've been up and down with many things. We keep showing up and the results start showing up."

Three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson had a nightmare when he had a 10 on the par-five 18th to finish the day 15 shots back to end up 79.

Mickelson took two penalty shots and another three strokes trying to navigate a greenside stream and nearby rocks on the last and faces a battle to make the cut.

Kang started slow but hit an eagle on his 11th hole, jarring a 30-foot putt after two fantastic set-up shots on the par-five. He birdied three of his final four holes.

"I struggled a little bit with a new driver from the start, but I found a way to hit it on the back nine so started driving a lot better," Kang said.

Tringale made seven birdies including four on the back nine to finish with his six-under 66 to be firmly in contention.

Spieth had seven birdies and two bogeys in his round, including a bright start where he birdied three of his first five.

The Texan, who is now ranked 67th, is looking for his first win since the 2017 Open Championship.

"Overall with the score, I certainly would have signed up for five-under starting out," Spieth said.

"Five-under around this track is a good score. I'd take four more of them."

Matsuyama rolled in a 25-foot birdie putt on the eighth as he put together a strong round along with Noh, who is yet to make a cut this season.

Sergio Garcia will skip the Texas Open in the week preceding The Masters to reduce any COVID-19 risks that could force him out of the Augusta field.

The 2017 Masters winner was forced to miss last year's tournament after testing positive for the coronavirus, breaking his run of competing in 84 consecutive majors.

Now he will take every step necessary to cut out any contact that could see him ruled out of another shot at a second green jacket.

Garcia made his announcement after storming to the top of the leaderboard at The Players Championship on Thursday with a seven-under 65, on a day when Henrik Stenson shot an 85 and Rory McIlroy laboured to a 79.

Asked whether he would be cautious about his schedule leading into Masters week, Garcia said: "I'm not playing the week before

"We have fans back, so you know that at any time you might get it [the virus] from any one of them - not that they're trying to give it to you or anything like that, but it might happen."

The WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play takes place in Austin a week before the Texas Open, and Garcia said he would "have to be careful" there.

"I would love to get closer to the fans, but there's too much at risk at stake for us and if we get COVID because of anything, we're the one that pays. We pay the price," Garcia added.

"No one else does. So we have to be very careful as the fans come back into our game, which is great to have them, don't get me wrong."

The 2020 Masters was moved from its usual April slot to November 12-15 and was played without spectators. They will return in limited numbers this year.

Given the changed circumstances last year, Garcia was not as put out as he might have been by missing a full-blown Augusta extravaganza.

"I'm not too much of a record kind of guy, but it was nice to have that streak going," Garcia said.

"I think I was quite close to catching up with Tom Watson as second most all time. I know my friends always like to keep a record of all those stats. But to be totally honest, if I had to miss any Masters, that probably was the one.

"Obviously playing in November, the Masters is unbelievable, but it didn't have the feel that it has in April, for sure. So now we know there's a good reason why we play it in April and not in November. So that was unfortunate, but it's what it is."

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