Wayward tee shots sink Laird's chances


SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Martin Laird held a share of the lead through 70 holes of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, but after two poor tee shots his chances for a fourth PGA Tour win were doomed.

Laird began the final round with a three-shot lead but that position was reversed by the end of the day, as the Scot finished three shots behind winner Brooks Koepka after a 1-over 72. It was the fourth time Laird has held a 54-hole lead on Tour, but only once has he left with the trophy in hand.

“Standing on 17 and tied for the lead is kind of where you want to be,” Laird said. “It’s obviously going to be a hard one to take the way the last two holes went.”

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The issue for Laird came at No. 17, where an errant 5-wood bounded into the gallery down the right side of the short par-4. He was forced to play away from the pin with his chip, and took three putts from 53 feet for a bogey that dropped him behind Koepka.

Down by a shot and with Koepka already in the final fairway, Laird then pulled a 5-wood into the lake left of the fairway at No. 18. The error led to a closing double bogey, and Laird ultimately finished in a tie for fifth at 12 under alongside amateur Jon Rahm.

“For me it’s a perfect 5-wood, 9-iron like I did the second time. Gives me as good a chance making birdie as hitting driver. That was my mindset,” Laird said. “Didn’t go as planned.”

This is the second time Laird has watched a lead slip away over the weekend during the 2014-15 season. The 32-year-old held the top spot at the halfway point of the season-opening Frys.com Open in October, but finished T-3. As he heads to next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, though, he sees reason for optimism. 

“I’ll think of this tonight and tomorrow for sure, but come next Thursday I will be ready to go,” said Laird, whose last victory came at the 2013 Valero Texas Open. “You’ve got to take positives out of it and look at somebody like Billy Horschel last year, everybody was kind of on him about what he did the one tournament, and he came back and won the next two events. 

“I don’t see why I can’t go next week and get in contention and hopefully get a win.”