Nick Taylor’s clutch putting at the par-4 18th hole at TPC Scottsdale allowed the Canadian to defeat Charley Hoffman in a playoff and win the WM Phoenix Open on Sunday in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Taylor captured his fourth PGA Tour victory and his second dramatic finish in the past eight months. At the RBC Canadian Open last June, Taylor made a 72-foot eagle putt to beat Englishman Tommy Fleetwood.
This time, Taylor’s winning putt on the second playoff hole came from a more manageable 11 1/2 feet out.
“It’s been fun to be in those moments,” said Taylor, who was the runner-up at last year’s Phoenix Open. “I think last year I drew a lot on for the Canadian Open and I’ve drawn on that for plenty of moments, as well. For whatever reason it is, the later it gets, I just seem to get a little more locked in and zoned in and kind of relish those moments, and it’s been a lot of fun.”
Hoffman shot his second straight 64 to charge ahead of the pack and be the first in the clubhouse at 21-under 263. Taylor finished his bogey-free round of 65 by hitting his second shot at No. 18 out of the rough to 9 1/2 feet of the cup, then sinking the birdie putt to force a playoff.
Both players birdied the 18th hole the first time through in the playoff, Taylor from 15 feet and Hoffman from 7. Staying there for the second playoff hole, Hoffman’s drive missed the fairway left and landed in a bunker, while Taylor was barely off in the right rough.
From there, Taylor stuck his second shot inside 12 feet, while Hoffman could only find the fat of the green 28 feet away. After Hoffman missed, Taylor sank a birdie that felt inevitable to all watching.
“Putting myself in contention coming down the stretch, I didn’t really falter, so I’ve got to give Nick credit,” Hoffman said. “He came back with birdies on 16 and 18 and then 18 and 18. He birdied four of the last five holes he played. Hats off to him for doing that. I played my butt off. I gave myself a chance.”
One of Taylor’s six birdies in regulation came at the famed par-3 16th “stadium hole.” Behind Hoffman by two at the time, Taylor planted his tee shot inside 6 feet of the pin to uproarious applause.
“The last I saw, Charley was at 21, so I knew in the back of my mind I needed to make at least two birdies,” Taylor said. “The number and the wind was perfect for what I needed to hit. It was a 9-iron. I started it at the 16 (sign) in the background and drew it in, and it worked out perfect.”
The pair finished the final round three shots ahead of World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler (66 on Sunday) and Sam Burns (64). Sahith Theegala (69) rounded out the top five at 17 under.
Scheffler was the two-time defending champion of the Phoenix Open. While settling for third, he did get a memorable sendoff after sticking his tee shot at No. 16 just 1 foot from the hole.
–Field Level Media