J. J. Spaun Wins His First Web.com Event
THUNDER BAY – 2015 Staal Foundation Open winner J. J. Spaun has won his first Web.com Tour event.
With his first career Web.com Tour win at the News Sentinel Open presented by Pilot on Sunday, reigning Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada Player of the Year J.J. Spaun put the cherry on top of what has been a magnificent rookie season, moving to third on the Money List. The 26-year old outdueled fellow 2015 The Five member Sam Ryder on Sunday by sinking a birdie putt on the 18th hole for a one-stroke win and joined Mackenzie Hughes as the second Mackenzie Tour alum to win in as many weeks on the Web.com Tour. Spaun answered questions about his time in Canada and his path to the game’s highest level.
Q: Being in the battle against Sam on Sunday must have felt pretty familiar from all the times you were in contention on the Mackenzie Tour last season. How did those experiences help you?
A: Basically, it’s relying on past experiences, knowing that you’ve been in this situation and come out with a win, so you rely on it. It’s taught me to stay in the moment and rely on what I’ve done, because things that I’ve done in the past that have worked out can help me at this level too. Putting yourself in the position in the first place is the toughest part, and you just have to capitalize on it when you do.
Q: You (T5) and Sam (Win) both played well at last year’s National Capital Open to Support Our Troops. Is there something about playing well at a certain time of year that translates from year to year?
A: Possibly. It’s pretty ironic that we both played well the same week both years, and maybe it’s just about getting the juices flowing. But Sam’s been playing well all year, and I’ve been playing pretty well all year too, and it’s just funny that we ended up playing on Saturday again (Note: during the 2015 National Capital Open to Support Our Troops, Spaun and Ryder were paired together for the third round) and Sunday too, and it’s just crazy that we did that last year too. It would have been nice to see Sam win, but someone had to win and fortunately for me I came out on top.
Q: That must have been tough playing on Sunday, knowing you’ve already got your PGA TOUR card secured, and if Sam won he would have his, too. At the same time, you’re a competitor, and especially wanting a win to complete what has been a great year for you, how did you put that aside and focus on trying to win?
A: It was really tough, because whether I finished first or second, it wouldn’t have made a huge difference for me, but for Sam it would have made a big difference because it probably would have locked up a card. The entire day, he was in control and it looked like it was his tournament, and the last minute the door kind of opened for me. Deep down inside, I wanted to win, but I also wanted him to win, and I really hoped he was going to make that putt to force a playoff; who knows what would have happened then? It was a tough situation, but he’s playing so well right now, I know for a fact he’s going to play well this week and lock up his card in Portland. That’s not the last time you’re going to see Sam Ryder in the mix.
Q: Mackenzie Hughes won last week, and including both of you there are five Mackenzie Tour alumni in The 25 heading into this week. Do you feel like having been in the position of chasing a spot in The Five on the Mackenzie Tour has helped prepare for The 25 chase?
A: A couple of buddies and I were talking about the other day, that guys who have done well on the Mackenzie Tour have done well across the board here. I think it shows what experience and being in contention for the top five does for you. It’s no easy task and being able to rely on past experience helps a lot.
Q: What did your win do for changing your goals, with one event left before the four Web.com Tour Finals events?
A: I haven’t really thought about it, other than just trying to keep playing well and get in contention to win as much as possible. If I can win a Finals event, great, if I can win the Money List, great. I think if I do set goals, that’s going to keep me motivated, and I’m going to have to re-trace and brainstorm off what I need to do to make some attainable goals. For now, though, I’m just going to keep preparing well and trying to play my best golf every single week.