Bubba Watson missed a 5-foot par putt on the 72nd hole Sunday to hand Kevin Stadler his first career PGA Tour title at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Here’s the skinny on the final round at TPC Scottsdale:
The leaderboard: Kevin Stadler (-16); Bubba Watson and Graham DeLaet at -15; Hunter Mahan and Hideki Matsuyama at -14.
What it means: It took Stadler 239 starts before he notched his first PGA Tour win, but he did so in impressive fashion, knocking it to 10 feet on the last hole to set up the winning two-putt par. This victory should move Stadler, 33, inside the top 70 in the world but, more importantly, it gives him a spot in the Masters, where he’ll be joined by his father, Craig.
Round of the day: Stadler closed with 68 to finish one shot ahead of Watson, who was vying for his first victory since the 2012 Masters. Watson bogeyed the par-3 16th, two-putted for birdie from 90 feet on 17 and then airmailed his wedge shot on 18 into the gallery behind the green. He gave himself a chance, bump-and-running his third shot to about 5 feet, but he missed the comebacker. With the second-place finish, Watson fell to 1-for-8 in converting a 54-hole lead into victory.
Best of the rest: Graham DeLaet shot 65 in the final round and finished one shot out of a playoff. His first four starts in the wraparound season: T7-T6-T2-T2. Honorable mention goes to Charles Howell III, who closed with 65 to finish T-6 – his Tour-leading fifth top 10 of the wraparound season. Webb Simpson also put together a Sunday charge, shooting 66-67 on the weekend to finish solo 10th. He hasn’t yet finished outside the top 25 this season.
Biggest disappointment: Phil Mickelson shot another mediocre round Sunday (even-par 71) to finish at 3-under 281, in a tie for 42nd. The good news for Lefty was that he was able to make it through four rounds without re-injuring his back. He’s expected to play next week’s event at Pebble Beach, his fourth in a row to start 2014. He will skip Riviera and the Match Play before returning at the Honda Classic.
Shot of the day: All square with Watson on 18, Stadler stuffed his weak sand-wedge shot inside 10 feet.
Quote of the day: “It’s been a long time coming, so I’ll take it any way I can get.” – Stadler