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2023 Valero Texas Open Preview, Picks & Analysis

By: | Mon 27 Mar 2023

JJ SPAUN will relish his return to the Valero Texas Open, scene of his maiden PGA Tour success 12 months ago - and a victory that signalled the start of a magnificent run of good form for the American.

The 32-year-old 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. In the process, 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 was 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 win for the first time in his 147th start.

It was a victory that changed his life. Apart from the win, he enjoyed a further two top-10 finishes and seven top-25 finishes and ended the year in 34th place in the FedEx Cup standings. And that form has continued this season with several more top-25 finishes.

He will attempt to become the first Valero Texas Open champion to win back-to-back since this year’s U.S. Ryder Cup captain Zach Johnson accomplished the feat in 2008 and 2009.

“Yeah, it's been unbelievable,” Spaun said, “I knew I could win out here on Tour. When I first got out here. It's just perseverance, just trying to push through and just stay strong.”

Tyrrell Hatton

(Tyrrell Hatton in The Field - Image Credit: Kevin Diss Photography)

Joining Spaun on the past champions list are Corey Conners (2019), Andrew Landry (2018), Jimmy Walker (2015) and Scotland’s Martin Laird (2013).

Conners was a member of the International Team in last year’s Presidents Cup matches. Landry is a two-time winner on the PGA Tour, with his most recent victory coming in the 2020 season. Walker is a six-time winner, including the 2016 PGA Championship. He has endured a miserable time with his health, and his wife has also been ill. Thankfully, his wife has made a full recovery and Walker is also feeling much better. Laird shot the final round course record of 63 to secure his victory in 2013.

It is a golf course that rewards straight hitting, and that means that the likes of Matt Kuchar could contend. 

Tournament Winners

It was won in 2015 by Jimmy Walker, in 2016 by Charley Hoffman, in 2017 by Kevin Chappell, in 2018 by Andrew Landry, in 2019 by Corey Conners, in 2021 by Jordan Spieth, and last year by JJ Spaun. There was no tournament in 2020 because of the pandemic.

The Course

TPC San Antonio’s Oaks Course is a par 72 measuring 7,435 yards and was designed by Greg Norman and Sergio Garcia. It features narrow, tree-lined fairways, huge bunkers, fast, undulating greens and several water hazards - and it is a proper test!

To Win:

Corey Conners. Hugely underrated. Has one of the best short games on the PGA Tour

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Tags: PGA Tour FedEx Cup

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