SAN ANTONIO — Jordan Spieth tapped in for par to win the 2017 British Open for his third major championship and 11th victory in just five years on the PGA Tour. He never imagined he would go 1,351 days before he felt that way again.
He went 82 events on tour without winning. Once the No. 1 player in the Official World Golf Ranking, he was headed out of the top 100.
And now he's back.
Spieth ended a mystifying slump Sunday by giving himself birdie chances and making most of them, closing with a 6-under-par 66 to hold off Charley Hoffman for a two-shot victory in the Valero Texas Open.
"There's peaks and valleys in this sport, but I never expected to go this long," said Spieth, a 27-year-old Dallas native who starred at the University of Texas. "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."
The only surprise? Spieth figured he would be more emotional. He was too busy holding off a spirited run by Hoffman, who went from a three-shot deficit with six holes to play to one shot behind. Spieth all but sealed it with a wedge shot to a back pin to set up a five-foot birdie putt.
Spieth, who finished at 18-under 270, will move to No. 38 in the world, putting him back in the top 50 for the first time in more than a year.
"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."
Now he heads to Augusta National as one of the favorites at the Masters, which starts Thursday. He was runner-up in his Masters debut in 2014, cruised to a wire-to-wire win the next year and was runner-up again after losing a back-nine lead in 2016.
Even going so long without winning, the 12th PGA Tour win of his career allowed him to join some elite company. In the past 40 years, Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, Justin Thomas and Tiger Woods are the only golfers who have won at least 12 times before turning 28.
Spieth showed signs of turning it around after starting the year by missing the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open. He was tied for the 54-hole lead at the Phoenix Open. He led by two going into the final round of the Pebble Beach Pro-Am. He was two behind going into the last day of the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Last weekend, he reached the knockout phase of the Dell Match Play, a a World Golf Championship.
"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."
Tied for the lead with England's Matt Wallace through 54 holes at TPC San Antonio, Spieth moved out in front Sunday and didn't let anyone catch him. He built a three-shot lead with a birdie on the 12th hole of the Oaks Course, but then Hoffman made him sweat.
Hoffman chipped in for birdie on the par-3 13th and holed a 20-foot birdie putt from the fringe on the par-3 16th to get within a shot. But he found a bunker off the tee on the short par-4 17th and had to settle for par as Spieth moved two shots ahead, and they both made par on the closing hole.
"I've lost golf tournaments, I've won golf tournaments, but today Jordan won the golf tournament," said the 44-year-old Hoffman, a four-time winner on the PGA Tour. "Obviously I put some pressure on. Obviously I would have liked to have hit some better shots coming down the stretch but gave myself an opportunity coming down the 18th fairway, and that's all you can ask for. Hats off to Jordan."
Wallace couldn't keep up and closed with a 70 to finish alone in third at 14 under. Lucas Glover (66) was two strokes futher back fourth, and India's Anirban Lahiri (69) was fifth at 10 under.
The six-way tie for 17th at 5 under included both Baylor School graduates in the field. Luke List, who improved his score each round, finished with a 69 that included an eagle on the par-5 14th hole and back-to-back birdies to close. Keith Mitchell posted a second straight 71 by making four birdies on the back nine.
Not without a fight
RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. — 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, and 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.