Groundhog Day was Thursday.
The Waste Management Phoenix Open saw a playoff end on the fourth hole of sudden death for the second year in a row.
The winner last year defended his title.
Hideki Matsuyama birdied the fourth playoff hole to defeat Webb Simpson and successfully defend his WMPO championship at the Stadium Course at TPC Scottsdale. Winning for the second time on Tour this season, Matsuyama joined Simpson on 17-under par 267 in regulation to force a playoff. Louis Oosthuizen, playing the event for the first time, finished alone in third, missing the playoff by a shot.
- Not known as a premium putter, he held his nerve to make knee-knockers on two of the last three holes to force a playoff.
- He continued to salvage pars in the playoff before rolling in a 12-footer to defend his title.
- Bogey-free 66 on Sunday.
- One eagle and 19 birdies were solid but not spectacular.
- Posted two bogey-free rounds (Thursday, Sunday) and only had four bogeys for the week (T-4).
- No doubles or worse.
- Led the field SG: Approach the Green, Tee to Green and Total.
- T-6 in fairways (37/56) and T-2 (58/72) GIR.
- T-26 PPGIR.
- One of three players to put all three rounds in the 60’s.
Past history at FIO:
- He was 14-under each of the previous three seasons.
- T-4, T-2, WIN and WIN in his only four starts.
- His two wins have come in playoffs on the fourth playoff hole.
- In his last nine events worldwide, he’s won five times.
- Of his four wins on Tour, three have come in playoffs.
- He’s unbeaten in playoffs (3-0).
- He’s a stud, simple as that.
- Only questions left to be answered will be how many more wins this season and which major will he pick off first.
- I’m already down to six starts on him in Yahoo and I’m fine with that!
- OAD players who didn’t use him this week will have four majors, the Memorial, three WGC events and four Playoff events to use him down the road.
With this win:
- Collects $1,206,000.
- 500 FEC points
- Checks in at No. 5 in the OWGR, same as last week.
- Leap-frogs Justin Thomas in the FedExCup standings by 83 points.
- Multiple Tour winner this season will add another year to his exemption already earned with his win at WGC-HSBC Champions.
Trends and stats from the week for next week and next year
- Post-redesign tournament low of 267.
- John Peterson’s 63 was the low round of the week and ties Matsuyama (2015) for redesign course “record”.
- Matsuyama joins Johnny Miller as the only player to defend at this event. Only two players in 83 events!
- The last player to win back-to-back events in a playoff was Ernie Els at the Sony Open (2003-04).
- Nick Faldo won the Masters back-to-back in a playoff. #Baller.
- Joins Phil Mickelson and J.B. Holmes as multiple winners of this event since 2000.
- He’ll look to match Arnold Palmer’s record of three wins in a row here next year.
- Of 12 winners on Tour this year, nine are in their 20’s.
- 23 players were double digits under par.
- Too many bogey-free rounds to count.
- Course played 70.192 for the week.
For the second consecutive year the weather in the Scottsdale desert was perfect and the scoring almost matched. In 2016 we saw new pin positions that led to higher scores. This year, there was a 63, 64 and a few 65 that would suggest these fellas are quick learners. The greens ran true and were in perfect shape as was the rest of the course.
A look inside the rest of the top 10.
Webb Simpson (T-2): It’s not surprising this would be the scene of his first top 10 since last summer at Wyndham as he’s hit the top 10 in four of the last five years. His worst finish in that run is T-14. The key this week, and you wouldn’t know it watching the playoff, was his putter. He finished inside the top 25 in both putting categories. His closing rounds of 65-64 (bogey-fee) was the best of the weekend and his lowest round since 64 in 2015 at Wyndham and CB Challenge. This is his sixth consecutive event with a score of 66 or lower. #Sizzle.
Louis Oosthuizen (3rd): The South African was one of three with all four rounds in the 60’s and racks up his best Tour finish since last season’s WGC-Dell Match Play. He squared ONE bogey for the week and played the last three rounds bogey-free to reinforce his class. Rob Bolton from PGATOUR.COM reports that Oosthuizen is looking to play more in the States this year and that will raise his value (less travel) for weekly gamers.
Rickie Fowler (T-4): All together now: Omit at Torrey, start in Scottsdale. Got it? Good. He backed up his playoff loss with T-4 so that’s proof enough THIS Weiskopf layout fits his eye. He made TWO bogeys on the week, none on the weekend, and did NOT lead the field in that stat! He’s the third and final player with all four rounds in the 60’s this week.
J.J. Spaun (T-4): For the second week in a row he has a career-best finish inside the top 10. He fired 15-under the final three rounds after opening with 71. The quick learner rode the momentum of his first top 10 last week at Torrey right back into the top 10 again this week and that’s not easy to do on brand-new courses. He struggled around the greens but was T-11 or better in fairways, greens and both putting categories. His 22 birdies were T-2 and his two eagles led the field.
Ben An (6th): The Korean was playing magnificently until limping home with 40 on Sunday. The co-leader after 36 holes led by one entering Sunday and was the only player to reach 18-under for the week. The wheels fell off across the board as all facets of his game didn’t fire down the stretch. Winning on Tour isn’t easy and it’s not easy with major champions and in-form players breathing down your next. An has now contended at Zurich and WMPO on Sunday. His other best Tour finish (stroke play) is T-11 at Memorial.
Daniel Berger (T-7): Interesting that his last top 10 on Tour was finishing second to Matsuyama at WGC-HSBC Champions last fall as both of these players also play well in Scottsdale. Berger played the final three rounds 13-under after opening with 71. His T-7 backs his T-10 from 2015 and is now 21-under in the last three years here. He led the field in SGP. Sadly, he was an early WD for this week’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am so I’m guessing we see him next in Jupiter.
Martin Laird (T-7): The 36 and 54-hole leader from 2015 (T-5) was back at it again this week with his second top seven in three years. Gamers who were discouraged by his MDF last week were reminded it was only ONE bad round in my preview. His bad round this week sadly came on Sunday as he played in the final group without making a birdie. He’s moved back to Scottsdale from Charlotte and is continuing to have a great season with his third top 10 in six starts.
Jordan Spieth (T-9): His worst start in his last five worldwide resulted in his second top 10 in as many starts on this track. Interestingly enough it was his approach play, not his putter, which was the star of the show this week. His 67 on Sunday jumped him into the top 10 as he moved up 12 spots. Gamers who didn’t burn a start on him won’t feel too bad that it wasn’t used in an event he was never threatening the leaders. He’s playing very well, as usual. #Patience.
Matt Kuchar (T-9): Excellent start to his 2017 portion on course he’s never been better than T-30 in the last three years. He rallied nicely on Sunday as his 33 coming home erased his 37 going out and kept him in the top 10. His opening 64 was the second-lowest round of the week.
Graham DeLaet (T-9): He’s hit the top 10 in three of the last four years at this event with MC last year being the only blemish. Gamers that had him in play that didn’t watch him bogey Nos. 16 and 18 on Sunday were better off than those living and dying with every shot. There’s no doubt the Canadian digs it here.
Players outside the top 10 who have caught my eyes in a positive way.
Adam Hadwin (T-12): Yep, him again. That’s six in a row and five of them T-27 or better. #Eh.
Sung Kang (T-12): I’d point out he shot 60 at MPCC last year so he’s heating up just in time for Pebble Beach. Thankfully nobody reads this column!
John Peterson (T-12): Pro gamers know he can get it around and will pick and choose their spots (Colonial). His 63 was legit and any lingering injury questions have been answered. His two birdies in the final four holes showed he didn’t mail it in. Super ball-striker.
Jon Rahm (T-16): Excellent outing after his first win as he stuck all four rounds under par. That’s hardly unusual for him but the expectations and attention was over-the-top this week and he handled it pretty well for 22 years of age.
Shane Lowry (T-16): He racked up 22 birdies for T-6 last year and followed that with 17 birdies this year even though he was 70th SGP and 66th PPGIR.
Brian Stuard (T-16): He was T-10 here in 2015 and beat An in the playoff at Zurich. Connect the dots.
“Whatever happened to…?”
Justin Thomas (MC): Damn kids…69-73…Yep, it happens!
J.B. Holmes (T-24): Back door T-24 thanks to a 67 on Sunday that will help chops like me in Yahoo!
Bubba Watson (MC): He entered the week 100-under and hadn’t finished outside the top 15 in the last five years. #MisterPink.
Ryan Moore (T-61): His weekend streak here is now nine in a row here but three rounds of even par gave him no chance.
Russell Knox (MC): Two ball-strikers jousted in the playoff while this one went home early, ending his run of 17 made cuts in a row.
Phil Mickelson (T-16): His 65 on Saturday got him within five. His 31 outward nine on Sunday put him directly into the fight. The final 40 shots saw him fade to T-16. Pro gamers are used to this rollercoaster. He circled 21 more birdies this week so that’s not the issue. Trivia: Tiger Woods has won on Tour since Mickelson last did. Woods won the 2013 WGC-BI and Mickelson the 2013 Open Championship. #Fachts. #LongTimeAgo.
Brendan Steele (T-16): His weekend finish (70-72) wasn’t ideal for gamers but his week-to-week play is what stands out. He’s posted nothing worse than T-31 and hasn’t MC in seven events this year.
Keep up @MikeGlasscott and mikeglasscott.com for more details. Tomorrow, I’ll preview the AT&T National Pro-Am and Wednesday I’ll post my gaming column.