Sunday's golf: Scheffler tops Cantlay in Phoenix Open playoff for first win

John Nicholson
Associated Press

Scottsdale, Ariz. — Scottie Scheffler was even par Sunday and three strokes behind after bogeying the par-3 12th in the WM Phoenix Open.

“If you would have told me on 13 tee I was going to be in a playoff, I would have been pleased,” Scheffler said. “I felt a little bit out of it at that point.”

Scottie Scheffler shouts as he celebrates his birdie putt on the third playoff hole during the final round of the Phoenix Open.

He got back into it quickly and, two hours later, made a 25-foot birdie putt on the third hole of a playoff with Patrick Cantlay to win his first PGA Tour title.

“I’ve been playing great and I was getting so frustrated because I was scoring so poorly,” Scheffler said. “To kind of put things together yesterday and get through all the mistakes I made today and still pull it out is pretty amazing.”

Cantlay missed an 11-foot birdie try to end it.

Scheffler followed the bogey on 12 with three straight birdies, left a birdie putt 2 inches short on the stadium par-3 16th and birdied the par-4 17th. He missed a chance to win on the par-4 18th in regulation when his 5 1/2-foot birdie try slid right.

“I think the first one is probably always the hardest and I definitely made it pretty difficult on myself today,” Scheffler said.

Scheffler closed with a 4-under 67 to match Cantlay at 16-under 268 at TPC Scottsdale. Cantlay, playing a group ahead of Scheffler, had a bogey-free 67.

Scheffler broke through in his 71st tour start. Before Sunday, the 25-year-old former Texas star's biggest highlights were beating Jon Rahm in September in United States' Ryder Cup victory at Whistling Straits and shooting a 59 in the 2020 Northern Trust.

“I kept telling myself there would be some bumps in the road," Scheffler said.

Scheffler and Cantlay matched pars on the first two extra trips down 18, with both players hitting the fairway and green the first time and both scrambling to save par on the second.

Nine strokes back entering the weekend, Scheffler shot a 62 on Saturday to pull within two strokes of leader Sahith Theegala and get into the final group.

“Scottie, obviously, played really well this weekend and deserves to win,” Cantlay said.

Cantlay was making his first start in the event, adding it to his schedule only because he figured it would be easier to play three straight weeks instead of flying back and forth from Florida between two of his favorite events in California. The FedEx Cup champion nearly left with his third victory in six starts.

“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," he said.

Theegala, the 24-year-old rookie who led after each of the first three days, lost a share of the top spot with a bogey on the par-4 17th after driving left into the water.

“I thought I hit a great shot on 17,” Theegala said.” 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."

Patrick Cantlay hits out of a fairway bunker on the 18th thole during the final round of the Phoenix Open.

He shot a 70 to tie for third at 15 under with defending champion Brooks Koepka (69) and Xander Schauffele (68).

“I just didn’t hit the shots at the right time when it counted,” Theegala said. “But definitely proud of the way I played this week.”

He missed a chance to become the first player to win on a sponsor exemption since Martin Laird in the 2020 Shriners Children’s Open.

Koepka, also the 2015 winner, closed with birdies on 17 and 18.

“I putted it really well. Really solid,” Koepka said. “But the wedges just weren’t up to par.”

Billy Horschel (66) and Alex Noren (68) were 14 under, with Justin Thomas (66) another stroke back with two-time Phoenix winner Hideki Matsuyama (69).

Rahm had a 67 to tie for 10th. The top-ranked former Arizona State star lives a few miles from the course.

With the leaders just getting started, Carlos Ortiz brought the wild 16th hole to life before noon with the second hole-in-one in two days.

His 8-iron shot on the 178-yard hole landed in front of the pin and rolled in. A day after Sam Ryder sent the stadium crowd into frenzy when he holed out from 124 yards, the rowdy fans again threw bottles and cans on the turf in celebration, delaying play.

“You start trying to watch out for your head because I got actually nailed pretty hard on the back with a beer can on the back,” Ortiz said. “After that I was just trying to just avoid all the cans I could.”

The ace was the 11th at No. 16 since the tournament moved to the course in 1987. The last time there were two aces on 16 in a week was 1997 when Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker did it.

Playing the back nine first, Ortiz followed with a 13-foot eagle putt on the par-4 17th — becoming the first player this season with consecutive eagles — and finished with a 67 to tie for 33rd at 7 under.

Play was delayed again for a lengthy cleanup on 16 about an hour later when Harry Higgs celebrated a par by lifting up his shirt, and playing partner Joel Dahmen took off his shirt and swung it over his head. Both were far out of contention.

The fans threw more garbage later after Thomas holed a 40-foot pitch. Cantlay's long birdie putt on 16, jumped up after hitting a mark on the green, leaving him with a 4-footer that he holed.

European Tour

Ryan Fox of New Zealand overcame a rugged start by closing with a 3-under 69 for a five-shot victory in the Ras Al Khaimah Classic.

Fox opened with a 63 and took a six-shot lead into the final round at Al Hamra Golf Club, completing a wire-to-wire victory. It was his second European tour title, and first in stroke play. He also won the ISPS Handa Super 6 tournament in 2019 with a final round that concluded with six-hole elimination matches.

Fox previously won twice on the Challenge Tour and twice on the PGA Tour of Australasia.

Ross Fisher closed with a 66 to finish alone in second.

It was the second straight European tour event at Al Hamra, following the Ras Al Khaimah Championship. The second event filled a void when the Qatar Masters was postponed because of travel restrictions.

Korn Ferry Tour

Brandon Matthew played the final three holes in 4-under par, making eagle on the final hole for a one-shot victory in the Astara Golf Championship.

Matthews finished one shot ahead of Ryan McCormick, who birdied the 18th for a 66, and Ben Griffin, who had a 68.

Matthews, who finished at 19-under 264, won for the first time on the Korn Ferry Tour. He had won each of the last two years on the PGA Tour Latinoamerica.

He is best remembered for his kindness at the Argentina Open in the fall of 2019, when he lost in a playoff after a fan with Down syndrome made a distracting noise. Matthews made it clear it was not the fan’s fault and gave him a signed glove. His gesture got the attention of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, which gave him a sponsor exemption.

The victory moves Matthew to the top of the points list. The top 25 at the end of the year earn PGA Tour cards.

The Korn Ferry Tour, after two weeks in Panama and Colombia, goes to Florida next week.