The 2014 Waste Management Phoenix Open is a notable stop on the PGA Tour's long schedule. The stadium setup on No. 16 sets the stage for one of golf's most iconic holes, and low scores are typically posted throughout the weekend at TPC Scottsdale.
The tournament began Thursday, Jan. 30, and it is scheduled to end Sunday, Feb. 2.
Phil Mickelson is the defending champion and a three-time winner. He famously lipped out a birdie putt on No. 18 in the first round last year that kept him from scoring an elusive 59.
But "Lefty" injured his back in last weekend's tournament at Torrey Pines, missing the final three rounds of the Farmers Insurance Open. As the defending champ, his desire to compete this weekend at TPC Scottsdale was high, as relayed by Golfweek.com's Brentley Romine.
Thankfully, his body seems to have complied as well.
“I had a good practice session, though I didn’t go full speed for much of it,” Mickelson said in a statement, via Bob Young of AZCentral.com. “I feel fine. I expect to play and play well.”
Scott Stallings will look for his second win in a row after he outlasted the field at Torrey Pines. He's an up-and-coming player who has now won three PGA Tour tournaments, and his finish at the end of the final round last weekend featured an impressive display of grit.
Here's a look at the TV schedule for the 2014 Waste Management Phoenix Open:
|Thursday, Jan. 30||3-7 p.m.||Golf Channel|
|Friday, Jan. 31||3-7 p.m.||Golf Channel|
|Saturday, Feb. 1||1-2:30 p.m.; 3-6 p.m.||Golf Channel; CBS|
|Sunday, Feb. 2||1-2:30 p.m.; 3-6 p.m.||Golf Channel; CBS|
Keep reading to find out how the top golfers fared in each of the four rounds at TPC Scottsdale.
|T6||Charles Howell III||65||-13|
After a scintillating finish, Kevin Stadler is your Waste Management Phoenix Open champion, defeating Bubba Watson on the 72nd hole of the tournament.
As ESPN's Justin Ray pointed out, it's the first career PGA Tour win for the 33-year-old, who also books a spot in the Masters with the clutch victory:
Of course, Graham DeLaet made things extremely interesting down the stretch
Entering the day six shots off the lead, the 32-year-old Canadian carded a round-best six-under 65, which included clutch birdies on Nos. 17 and 18. Even Toronto Maple Leafs' center Tyler Bozak showed his excitement:
What a finish @GrahamDeLaet! Birdie birdie. Share of the lead!!— Tyler Bozak (@Bozie42) February 2, 2014
When Watson and Stadler both hit water or No. 15 and then Watson bogeyed No. 16, we were suddenly looking at a three-way playoff.
But both players knocked in tremendous two-putt birdies on the par-four 17th to take a one-shot lead and set up a head-to-head No. 18 that would eventually decide the tournament.
After Stadler just missed a 12-foot birdie putt for the victory and finished with a par, Watson faced a five-foot putt to force a playoff.
But he pushed it left, capping a bizarre finish and giving the former USC star his first victory.
After three rounds, only Bubba Watson is ahead of the pack. After sharing the lead after Rounds 1 and 2, Watson took sole possession of the top spot thanks to a 68 in Round 3.
Watson has been in brilliant form in Phoenix, but he has no margin for error on the last day with four players within three strokes of him and 10 players within five.
One of those players, Brendan Steele, soared up the leaderboard with a sizzling 62 for the round (with nine birdies and zero holes over par). Steele jumped up 42 spots on the leaderboard and is on track to continue his recent success at the Waste Management Open.
Another big riser for the day was Canadian Graham DeLaet, who shot six-under and climbed 26 spots into 12th place.
For Steele to shoot up the board, however, some other players had to fall and Friday’s star—Matt Jones—couldn’t hold on to the top spot and dropped down to a tie for sixth place.
Ryan Moore was another big winner of Round 3, as his 64 catapulted him into a tie for third place and put him in striking distance to win the whole thing.
Additionally, 21-year-old Hideki Matsuyama continued his impressive play and showed why he has such a bright future ahead of him.
Heading into the last day, Bubba Watson is the favorite to win the tournament but he is by no means the prohibitive favorite.
A tight contest should make Sunday’s action thoroughly entertaining for the record-breaking number of fans in attendance for the tournament.
Attendance figures for the Waste Management Phoenix Open. I hear they expect 190,000 today! pic.twitter.com/4b7puxKVqB— Beth Ann Nichols (@GolfweekNichols) February 1, 2014
Bubba Watson was able to hold on to a share of the lead after two rounds, but Matt Jones' six-under 65 made it difficult. Jones and Watson are both 12 under par heading into the weekend, and in control.
Their lead is far from insurmountable, though.
Greg Chalmers and Harris English are both just two strokes behind them at 10 under par.
Play was suspended with just four players still on the course, per PGA Tour.
Watson had some struggles during the latter portion of the front nine. He bogeyed the seventh and ninth holes. He put together three birdies on the back nine to right the ship, and to maintain his share of the lead.
Jones had just one bogey on the day.
After shooting the exact same solid score on consecutive days, you have to marvel at his consistency. Here's an interview with Jones and WMPO-TV's Amanda Pflugrad after Jones completed play on Friday.
Full leaderboard can be found via PGATour.com
Round 1 Recap
Y.E. Yang and Bubba Watson set the bar high in Round 1, as both golfers finished their first rounds with seven-under 64s. But there's no wiggle room at the top of the leaderboard, as seven players are just one shot back and an astonishing 31 players are within three shots of the lead.
Yang was among those who got out early in the day, and he set the standard by carding eight birdies and just one bogey. He closed out his round nicely, and David Kadlubowski of the Arizona Republic captured him celebrating:
Watson was among the last to play on Thursday, and he put on a show for the swelling crowd. Like Yang, he carded but one bogey, scoring eight birdies to finish at seven under par. Similarly, he also went on a flurry with four birdies on Nos. 13 through 18.
ESPN's Justin Ray adds a couple more stats that show why the two were able to distinguish themselves in Round 1:
Bubba Watson and Y.E. Yang: both tied for lead at -7, both hit 17/18 greens in regulation, both played par 4's in -5 today.— Justin Ray (@JRayESPNGolf) January 31, 2014
They'll need to continue playing hot golf over the weekend, because there are plenty of golfers in the field capable of shooting low on this course.
A player who is notably absent from the leaderboard is defending champ Phil Mickelson, who finished Round 1 tied for 65th place at even par.
Lefty was forced to miss the final three rounds at Torrey Pines a week ago with a bad back, but he attributed his poor showing to rust, rather than health.
"My game was a little rusty," he said, as relayed by Brian Wacker of PGATour.com. "I wasn't quite focused on every shot the way I need to be, and let way too many shots slide today."
With seven shots to make up and 64 men in front of him, Mickelson has his work cut out for him if he has any hope of defending his title.