Kyle Stanley had tears in his eyes after overcoming an eight-shot deficit to win golf’s Phoenix Open and rebound from last week’s final-hole collapse that cost him a chance for his first U.S. PGA Tour victory.
Stanley shot a 6-under-par 65 yesterday at the TPC Scottsdale in Scottsdale, Arizona, to finish 15 under for 72 holes. Ben Crane finished second at 14-under, while third-round leader Spencer Levin was a shot further back in third.
Stanley, who receives about $1.1 million for his first victory on golf’s richest circuit, was tied for fifth place at the start of the final round, eight shots behind Levin. At last week’s Farmers Insurance Open, Stanley had blown a six-shot lead on the final day, including his three-shot advantage at the 72nd hole, and was beaten in a playoff by Brandt Snedeker.
“I’m never going to forget that, but I think it makes this one a lot sweeter, just being able to bounce back,” Stanley, 24, said at a news conference. “I’m very grateful for the support I’ve gotten. It’s an unbelievable turnaround.”
Stanley, the 2009 Ben Hogan Award winner at Clemson University as the collegiate player of the year, moved atop the leaderboard yesterday by making birdies on six of the first 14 holes, while Levin was 3 over after 12 holes.
Levin regained a share of the lead with a birdie at the 14th hole and then double-bogeyed the par-5 15th hole, where he hit his tee shot into a cactus and then his third shot into the water in front of the island green.
Stanley led Crane by one shot at the par-4 18th hole and closed his round by making a four-foot par putt. Stanley last week made a triple-bogey 8 at the final hole at Torrey Pines, including a missed four-foot putt for the win.
“I just tried to focus on playing golf,” said Stanley, who was ranked 87th in the world entering the event. “I knew I was playing well coming into this week. The biggest challenge was seeing if I could put last week behind me. I think I did.”
The PGA Tour now heads to Pebble Beach, California, for the $6.4 million AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, where Tiger Woods is scheduled to make his 2012 U.S. debut.