SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Jordan Spieth ended a slump that lasted nearly four years, closing with a 6-under 66 on Sunday to win the Valero Texas Open for his first victory since the 2017 British Open at Royal Birkdale.
Now he heads to Augusta National as one of the favorites at the Masters.
“This is a monumental win for me,” Spieth said. “It’s been a long road. There were a lot of times that I didn’t know I would be here.”
Spieth sealed it with a 5-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole, and he won by two shots over Charley Hoffman.
Spieth went 82 starts on the PGA Tour without a victory since Royal Birkdale. He missed the Tour Championship the past two years and nearly fell out of the top 100 in the world at the start of this year.
But the 27-year-old from Dallas showed signs of turning it around. He was tied for the 54-hole lead in Phoenix. He led by two going into the final round at Pebble Beach. He was two behind going into the last day at Bay Hill.
Tied for the lead with Matt Wallace going into Sunday at the TPC San Antonio, Spieth moved out in front and didn’t let anyone catch him. He built a three-shot lead with a birdie on the 12th hole, when Hoffman made him sweat with birdies on both par 3s to get within one shot.
Spieth won for the 12th time on the PGA Tour and moved to No. 38 in the world. It’s the first time in more than a year that he is back among the top 50.
RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. (AP) — Patty Tavatanakit survived Lydia Ko’s final-round charge to win the ANA Inspiration for her first LPGA Tour victory.
Five strokes ahead entering the day and six in front after a chip-in eagle on the par-5 second, Tavatanakit shot a 4-under 68 in 100-degree heat to beat Ko by two strokes in the first major championship of the year.
Ko matched Lorena Ochoa’s tournament record with a 62, shooting 7-under 29 on the front nine for the best nine-hole score in event’s 50-year history. The New Zealander began the day tied for seventh at 6 under, eight strokes behind Tavatanakit in the tournament played without spectators for the second time in seven months.
Winless since April 2018, the 23-year-old Ko played the first 11 holes in 9 under and added a birdie on the par-4 15th. On the par-5 18th, she drove into rough near the water that lines the left side, laid up and hit a wedge 30 feet long and right. Her birdie try missed to the left, stopping inches away.
Tavatanakit had a series of late par saves to keep her two-stroke lead. Her 8-footer on the par-4 15th circled the cup and dropped in, she lagged a 45-footer to 2 feet on the par-4 16th, and chipped to inches on the par-3 17th after missing the green left.
The 21-year-old Thai player finished the wire-to-wire victory with a short par putt on 18. A day after matching the tournament 54-hole record of 14 under set by Pernilla Lindberg in her 2018 victory, Tavatanakit finished a stroke off Dottie Pepper’s 72-hole mark of 19 under set in 1999.
Nelly Korda (66), Sei Young Kim (66) and Nanna Koerstz Madsen (66) and Shanshan Feng (69) tied for third at 11 under.
KORN FERRY TOUR
DESTIN, Fla. (AP) — Stephan Jaeger closed with a 4-under 66 and beat David Lipsky in the playoff by making par on the first extra hole to win the Emerald Coast Classic at Sandestin on the Korn Ferry Tour.
Jaeger won for the sixth time on the Korn Ferry Tour dating to 2016. This victory moves him to No. 2 on the points list and all but assures a return to the PGA Tour next season.
He also won last year at the Albertsons Boise Open.
Lipsky, a Californian who has European Tour and Asian Tour membership, birdied the last two holes for a 67 to join Jaeger at 14-under 266 and force a playoff. But returning to the 18th, he made bogey and had to settle for a runner-up finish.
Andrew Novak, who had the 54-hole lead, took two double bogeys on the front nine. He had a chance to join the playoff until making par on the 18th to finish one shot behind. Novak closed with a 71.