Scottie Scheffler outlasted Patrick Cantlay in a dramatic three-hole playoff to claim his first PGA Tour title by winning the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale.
The 25-year-old shot a four-under 67 in his final round on the Stadium Course to tie Cantlay, who shot the same score, at 16-under for the week before beating him with a birdie on the third playoff hole.
Scheffler had a chance to win it from five-feet on the 72nd hole, a glorious approach shot giving him a good look at birdie, but his putt slid by to the right which forced it to extra holes.
After both players parred the 18th the first two times around, on the third extra hole it was Scheffler who triumphed, draining a 25-footer for the birdie which handed him his maiden title on Tour after a long time waiting for his big break.
It was the Ryder Cup star’s weekend performance that got him over the line as a nine-under 62 on Saturday pulled him into contention before he closed it out on Sunday, despite being in a share of 44th place at the halfway stage.
“I played pretty poorly the first two days. As bad as I’ve scored with how good I’ve been playing, I’ve been playing great and I was getting so frustrated because I was scoring so poorly,” said Scheffler, who will break into the world’s top-10 with this finish.
“To kind of put things together yesterday and get through all the mistakes I made today and still pull it out is pretty amazing.
“Patrick is obviously a phenomenal player, and I knew one of us was going to have to make a birdie. Par wasn’t going to do it. (18) is a really hard tee ball for me. It’s hard for me to get it in play, so I knew if I had an opportunity I really had to take advantage of it.”
On the other side of Scheffler’s delight was the heartbreak for former college star Sahith Theegala, who took a one-shot lead into the final round but saw an unfortunate bounce at the par-four 17th take his tee shot into the water and lead to a bogey that cost him a place in the playoff.
The 24-year-old would eventually settle for a one-under 70 that saw him share third with Xander Schauffele and Brooks Koepka at 15-under, and he let his emotions out after the round when he was embraced by his family.
“I thought I hit a great shot on 17. It was cutting. As long as it’s another yard right, I think that’s perfect. Kick straight and it’s good. Kicked left into the water there,” explained a devastated Theegala.
“I just didn’t hit the shots at the right time when it counted. But definitely proud of the way I played this week. I think I’ll have plenty of time to think about it on my drive back home, but definitely excited for what the rest of the year holds.”
Theegala had lost his lead early when Scheffler followed a 20-foot birdie at the second with another at the third, but the former Pepperdine University stand-out responded with back-to-back birdies at the fourth and fifth as Scheffler faltered with a bogey on the fifth.
Cantlay joined the party with a birdie on the sixth and then took the outright lead with a birdie at the ninth as Theegala dropped shots on the seventh and the 11th, although he made up for it with a birdie at 12 to jump back to the top.
Both players birdied the 15th, with Cantlay setting the clubhouse target at 16-under, before Theegala’s chances came to an end when he gambled on the driveable par-four 17th but saw his tee shot kick into the greenside water hazard.
Meanwhile, Scheffler strung together a run of three consecutive birdies, starting at the 13th, and then reached 16-under himself by birdieing the 17th, and he could have won it outright had he holed his five-footer at the last only to see it shave the hole and stay above ground.
Fortunately for the Texan it was not to matter as, after both players traded pars on the first two playoff holes, he would convert from 25-feet on the third extra hole to lift the title.
“I played well today. I didn’t make any bogeys, and I hit a lot of good putts and didn’t really get anything to go in all day. Scottie obviously played really well this weekend and deserves to win,” said a magnanimous Cantlay.
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