What We Learned: Phoenix Open


Each week, the GolfChannel.com team offers thoughts on 'what we learned' from the most recent big events. This week, the team reflects on Kyle Stanley's reversal of fortune in Phoenix and John Daly's showing at the Qatar Masters.

Kyle Stanley heals quickly.

After Stanley collapsed at the end of the Farmers Insurance Open last week, nobody could be sure how Stanley would respond just a week later. We weren't sure if he would be playing the Phoenix Open with an open wound or tender scars. Either way, we learned the guy can play with pain. Or he's got a cornerback's short memory . . .  or enabling amnesia.

The tears Stanley shed last week made you wonder about his toughness. We learned in his tears of happiness in Phoenix that tough guys can cry. He showed terrific toughness bouncing back so quickly. – Randall Mell

I learned that Kyle Stanley's lips quiver in either defeat or victory. Granted, in both instances, the circumstances – a devastating 72nd-hole triple bogey to lose at Torrey and then the semi-miraculous comeback win at Phoenix – were off the charts on an emotional level. – Golf Guy

I learned that other PGA Tour events should use the Waste Management Phoenix Open as a blueprint for garnering more fan support.

For years, I’ve agreed with the majority of players who believe that the fun-first atmosphere is fun for one week out of the year, but shouldn’t be the norm at other tournaments.

Forget that.

Quite simply, having more than a half-million fans envelop a tournament should be the rule, not the exception. Even if many of the spectators were more interested in finding the bottom of their own cup rather than seeing which players could find the bottom of those on the course, having an entire community support its local PGA Tour stop should hardly be construed as a negative. In fact, it should be the model. Not necessarily the party atmosphere, but the sheer volume of people involved in the tournament.

It grows the game, it grows the Tour. Before now, I thought it was a nice diversion each year. I learned this week that it should the blueprint instead of the exception. – Jason Sobel

I learned that there is no way to know the resiliency of a player. Last week Kyle Stanley blew a seven-stroke lead at Torrey Pines and lost a playoff for his first PGA Tour title.

On Sunday in Scottsdale the man many predicted would need months to recover from his San Diego collapse began the day eight strokes behind Spencer Levin, one-putted two of his final five holes and signed for a 65 and a one-stroke victory. Some players need time, others just need another start. – Rex Hoggard

This may be the year Webb Simpson wins a major.

Simpson finished T-8 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open to notch his second top 10 in the three events he's played this season.

He had the fewest putts at the U.S. Open last year and only two players had fewer putts than him at the 2011 Open Championship. Consider that alongside his two victories in '11 and finishing second on the PGA Tour money list and we've got a star in the making.

Already off to a hot start in 2012, it’s only a matter of time before he secures a ‘W’ this season and I’d put money on that victory coming at a major championship. – Bailey Mosier

I learned that John Daly will continue to get sponsor exemptions as long as he wants them. Really, truly thought after the debacle Down Under in November – where an exemption was rescinded the following week after he exploded on a hole and walked off the course – that other tournament officials would see that Long John doesn't value the opportunities he's been given and only cares about himself. Sadly, I was wrong. As long as he sells tickets, he'll have a place to play. – Jay Coffin

I learned I've been using the wrong club to hit out from under bushes. After watching Spencer Levin, I realized I have to get me one of those long putters. Not to putt with, just to knock my ball out from under bushes.

I also learned I don't understand swing analysis. I watched and listened to Peter Kostis describe just what went wrong in swings that produced wayward shots. Those swings all looked uniformly perfect to me. I know a bad swing when I see one. I've videotaped my own. – Al Tays

On Super Bowl Sunday, I realized the mantra of 'any given Sunday' is more applicable to golf than our modern national pastime.A week after stunning everyone with a 72nd-hole collapse at Torrey Pines, Kyle Stanley walked through an open door cracked by San Diego first round co-leader Spencer Levin. 

Meanwhile, Paul Lawrie outshined a sandblasted, deep field in Qatar to politely remind the golf world that he can still win. Thirteen years ago, Lawrie won the same event before winning the Open Championship at Carnoustie – curiously, seizing on one of the all-time great collapses in major championship history.

History sure has a funny way of repeating itself. – Ryan Ballengee