Sunday at the Waste Management Phoenix Open set up to be an awesome day full of big names jockeying for a PGA Tour tournament titled ahead of the Super Bowl, but for two of the biggest names in the game, Super Sunday was a letdown.
Rickie Fowler and Phil Mickelson, albeit at different times in the day, both seemed to be poised to take home the trophy only to see their rounds derailed.
Final-round leaderboard at TPC Scottsdale
T1. Gary Woodland (-16)
T1. Chez Reavie (-16)
T3. Ollie Schniederjans (-15)
T3. Matt Kuchar (-15)
T3. Brendan Steele (-15)
T3. Rickie Fowler (-15)
7. Jon Rahm (-14)https://t.co/aCvBgOpSKh pic.twitter.com/VzyTlx4w2P
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) February 4, 2018
Fowler entered the final round at TPC Scottsdale holding the 54-hole lead, but a final-round 2-over par 74 dashed those hopes early in the day. GolfChannel.com’s Will Gray had more on Fowler.
Fowler continues to be vexed by the Stadium Course at TPC Scottsdale, where he once again came up just short in his quest to win this tournament.
Fowler was a runner-up here in 2010, and he lost in a playoff in 2016. This time he carried a one-shot lead into the final round, only to shoot a 2-over 73 that dropped him out of the top 10.
“Just couldn’t buy a putt,” Fowler said. “That’s one of the best clubs in my bag. I felt like I hit a lot of good putts, so it was a little disappointing to not see really anything go in on the back nine. I think that was kind of the biggest letdown.”
The result continues recent trends for both Fowler and the tournament. Gary Woodland won in a playoff, becoming the eighth champion in the last nine years to come from behind in the final round, while Fowler has now converted only one of his six 54-hole leads into victory.
Fowler now has five top-15 finishes at this event, including three straight, and he remains optimistic that his name will someday be included among the tournament’s long list of champions.
“I love this place. The course and I, most of the time we get along well,” Fowler said. “Little bummed that I didn’t really make anything on the back nine to at least move up and have a chance.”
As for Mickelson, his charge came later in the afternoon when Fowler had already taken himself out of contention. A solid round turned into something potentially magical when Lefty birdied 15, 16 and 17 to get to 16-under par.
Phil Mickelson thrilled the partisan crowds with a late charge up the leaderboard at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, but in the end he still came up short of his first win in nearly five years.
Mickelson couldn’t get a putt to drop on the front nine, burning edges and failing to capitalize on chances while Gary Woodland and Chez Reavie raced out ahead. The ball finally found the target on Nos. 15-17, where the southpaw made three straight birdies to keep alive his faint hopes for a fourth win at TPC Scottsdale.
But needing an eagle on the 72nd hole to force a playoff, Mickelson pushed his drive into a grassy hill within a fairway bunker. After a lengthy search simply to find the ball, he pitched out en route to a closing double that dropped him into a tie for fifth.
“The first half I was fractionally off. I was getting a little bit of lateral movement, and that is not a good thing for me,” Mickelson said. “Unfortunately I just didn’t get the putts going in early enough to make the run there at the end, but it was still fun coming down the stretch and making a putt on 16 and things like that.”
Mickelson won here for the third time in 2013 and later that year captured The Open. While he still remains in search of his first win since that summer in Scotland, the 47-year-old remains optimistic that he’ll soon translate contending into winning as he turns his attention to next week’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
“I think that my game’s gotten better each week, my focus is getting better each week,” Mickelson said. “So I’m hoping that I continue to build on this. This shouldn’t just be a one-week deal, I should be getting better and better as the weeks go on.”
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