Jordan Spieth saved his best for last, shooting a seven birdie, one bogie 66 on Sunday to win the 99th edition of the Valero Texas Open, a victory that sends him to Augusta National for the Masters as a serious contender.
Spieth, who finished at 18-under 270, was under par for all four rounds, shooting 67-70-67-66. He also vaulted to No. 7 in the FedExCup standings.
Charley Hoffman, who overcame a first round 75 to give serious chase all day to Spieth, also finished with a 6-under 66 and runner-up for the third time in a tournament he won in 2016. He was runner-up the last time the Texas Open was played in 2019.
Englishman Matt Wallace, who started the day tied with Spieth at 12-under, suffered a cold putter on Sunday and was never a threat. His 2-under 70 was good for a third-place finish.
Spieth seemed suprisingly calm for the winner’s interview on the 18th green.
“Actually, I felt really light, felt like I just wanted to come out smiling, have some fun,” Spieth said after winning. “I never really doubted in myself, but at times you lose confidence. … This is a monumental win for me. It’s been a long road. There were a lot of times that I didn’t know I would be here.”
“First win as a husband,” an NBC announcer noted as Spieth enjoyed a long hug with his wife, Annie, after walking off the 18th green.
The win at the Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio ends an 82-tournament drought that dates back to Spieth’s third major win at the British Open at Royal Birkdale Golf Course in 2017. It’s his 12th victory on the PGA Tour.
Spieth began the day showing a tournament official what appeared to be a small crack in his driver, a reminder of sorts that his struggles off the tee with the club might be the one weakness in his game that could keep him out of the winner’s circle. Not this Sunday. Spieth found his groove off the tee early in the round and moved into the lead solo after three holes.
Spieth parred the difficult opening hole and then carded two consecutive birdies, the first on the par-5 second hole. The next came after he put his tee shot on the par-3 third hole 2 feet from the cup for a tap-in birdie. Spieth made the intimidating 170-yard tee shot over water look easy and walked to the fourth tee leading at 14-under.
Spieth and Wallace both sent their drives off the fourth tee into the thick of Hill County scrub oaks and ash juniper. Both were forced to chip out, and both suffered bogies. It would prove to be Spieth’s only bogey of the day.
Hoffman, who had a bogey-free round Sunday, birdied the par-4 fifth hole to pull within one shot of Spieth and one hole later drained another birdie putt to tie Spieth, but only for a minute. Spieth followed with his own birdie to stay alone atop the leaderboard. That made for three birdies in the first six holes for both Spieth and Hoffman, while Wallace slipped into third, two shots back.
Spieth was the only one in the threesome to birdie the eighth and both par-5s on the front nine, giving him a two-stroke lead at 15-under at the turn.
His front nine performance was an early sign that Spieth’s third 54-hole lead or share of the lead this season would finally result in victory. He’s held 54-holes leads on 18 occasions since coming on the tour in 2013. Before Sunday, he had closed out nine of them in the winner’s circle, a remarkable winning percentage. His win on the Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio made it 10.
Spieth stayed steady through the back nine, carding birdies on 12, 14, and 17. He missed birdie on 18, but by then Hoffman had missed his eagle chip and Spieth’s win was clinched.
Spieth can return to San Antonio in 2022 as defending champion for the 100th anniversary of the Texas Open. He’ll travel to Augusta this week, scene of his first major win in 2015, as a serious contender to win a second green jacket.
One negative aspect of the tournament at TPC San Antonio was how many fans openly flaunted the mandatory mask rule. Each day I counted hundreds of fans who went maskless and others who wore masks around their necks. Course marshals and tournament officials made no effort to compel paying customers to adhere to the rule. On the one hand, people were outdoors and undoubtedly feeling safe. On the other hand, Spieth drew large crowds on every tee and green with fans bunched together tightly.
Even masked and vaccinated, I found myself keeping my distance, enjoying a Texas Open that seems to attract a stronger and stronger field with each passing year.