J.J. Spaun is currently healthy, but a recent injury has posed some challenges for him.
"My coach has been hurt for like four months," Spaun said Wednesday ahead of his Valero Texas Open title defense. "He broke his pelvis in December, so he can't really travel. He normally travels out here every week and he's been pretty much bedridden, can't really walk, he's not very mobile."
Spaun notched his maiden PGA Tour victory at TPC San Antonio last year, which got him into January's Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he placed T-5. He followed that up with a T-12 at the Sony Open, but the 32-year-old Californian has since missed four out of six cuts.
Like many players, Spaun started struggling with his swing. However, tweaking his issues was more difficult without his coach on hand — and it sent his game into a downward spiral.
Full-field scores from the Valero Texas Open
"I kind of got off on my swing and I kind of started trying to figure things out myself because he's at home and he can't really help," Spaun said. "But sending him videos here and there and I think I just sort of got in my own way as far as trying to perfect like my swing and why did it change from Maui and Sony to L.A. and Bay Hill and those events where I was kind of just going down the rabbit hole of trying to make my swing look like how it was just a few months prior instead of just playing with what I had, which probably would have ended up being better for me."
But with a T-9 at last week's WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play at Austin Country Club, the world's 69th-ranked player is starting to see light at the end of the tunnel.
"I got it figured out," Spaun said. "Had a good week off before Austin and trying to just stay out of my own way and hit good shots and I think I'm back to that now."
With his refurbished confidence, Spaun hopes for deja vu at TPC San Antonio — which is the only way he can secure a spot in the Masters' field for the second straight year.
"I've heard the cliche, the "pinch me" moments and "am I dreaming," he said, "that's kind of what I felt for the first time in my life going from the win here and then literally flying over the next morning to Augusta and then registering. ... I know what I've got to do this week to get back there."
And he'll have to pull it off this year without his coach by his side.