Tony Finau had the 2020 Waste Management Phoenix Open won everywhere but where it counted – the finish.
Webb Simpson wore down the luckless Finau to win his 6th PGA Tour title with birdies at his final two holes in regulation and another in extra time.
Finau had taken a one shot lead over Simpson into today’s final round at the TPC Scottsdale in the northeastern suburbs of Phoenix and although he led by just one at the turn he had extended his lead to two when walking to the reachable par 4 17th.
His tee shot there found the bunker some 60 meters short of the hole. From there he could only make par while Simpson’s more aggressive approach from the tee paid off in the form of a birdie and the gap was just one.
The 18th hole would see Simpson hole a birdie putt from 12 feet and when Finau was unable to match him from 7 feet the pair was tied and extra time was required.
It would take only one hole to decide the fate of the title. Simpson winning his 6th PGA Tour title and a cheque for US$1,314,000.
It would also see Simpson jump to 7th in the world ranking, up from 19th at this event last year and the highest he has been since August of 2012.
The victory goes some way to atoning for the playoff loss to Hideki Matsuyama by Simpson in this event in 2017.
For Finau it was yet another agonising near miss. The winner of only one event has now recorded seven runner-up finishes on the PGA Tour but he did little wrong today and was beaten by Simpson whose powerful finish was too hot to handle.
“I had two weeks of rest coming in,” said Simpson referring to his state of mind at the start of the week. “I flew out to see Butch Harmon (coach) in Vegas so I started the week off right getting a check -up form him.
“When I drove it in the water of 15 I knew it wasn’t over but I had to do something special to win it and thankfully I birdied the last two and then repeated in the playoff.
“I’ve picked up a mile and a half an hour (swing speed) in the last two years but I have been keen not to do it overnight as I do not want to lose what is my strength when playing well and that is hitting fairways.
“I hired a trainer three years ago and set out on a journey to get longer but very carefully as distance control, precision, accuracy etc is very important for me as I don’t hit it that far.
“We have the luxury on the PGA Tour to pick where we want to play which is a great luxury to have so I on purpose stay away from places that I don’t think give me a good chance to win.
“Playing well the last couple of years has been a lot of being smart about where I am playing.”
Justin Thomas and Bubba Watson both finished strongly to share third three shots from the playoff pair.
New Zealander, Danny Lee, was the leading Australasian when he finished 25th while former winner, Aaron Baddeley, was the only Australian to make it to the weekend and finished 40th.
The PGA Tour now heads back to the West Coast for the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am.