Scheffler nabs first title with Phoenix playoff win

Scheffler nabs first title with Phoenix playoff win

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Scottie Scheffler outlasted Ryder Cup teammate Patrick Cantlay on the third hole of a playoff Sunday in the WM Phoenix Open, making a 25-foot birdie putt that had just enough momentum to tumble in.

Cantlay missed an 11-foot birdie try after Scheffler holed his putt.

Scheffler birdied four of the final six holes for a 4-under 67 to match Cantlay at 16-under 268 at TPC Scottsdale on another sunny, 80-degree day. Cantlay, playing a group ahead of Scheffler, had a bogey-free 67.

Scheffler broke through in his 71st PGA Tour start. Before Sunday, the 25-year-old former University of Texas star’s biggest professional highlights were beating Jon Rahm in September in United States’ Ryder Cup victory at Whistling Straits and shooting a 59 in the 2020 Northern Trust.

Scheffler and Cantlay matched pars on the first two extra trips down 18, with both players hitting the fairway and green the first time and both scrambling to save par on the second.

Scheffler missed a chance to end it in regulation when his 5 1/2-foot birdie try slid right. On the stadium par-3 16th, he left a birdie putt 2 inches short.

Nine strokes back entering the weekend, Scheffler shot a 62 on Saturday to pull within two strokes of leader Sahith Theegal and get into the final group. Scheffler played the first 12 holes in even par Sunday, with four birdies and four bogeys, before the late charge.

The fourth-ranked Cantlay was making his first start in the event, adding it to his schedule only because he figured it would be easier to play three straight weeks instead of traveling back and forth from Florida between two of his favorite events in California.

The FedEx Cup champion nearly left with his third victory in his last six starts. On the 18th in regulation, he left a 9-foot birdie putt short.

Theegala, the rookie who took the lead into the day, lost a share of the top spot with a bogey on the par-4 17th after driving left into the water. The 24-year-old shot a 70 to tie for third at 15 under with 2021 winner Brooks Koepka (69) and Xander Schauffele (68).

Theegala missed a chance to become the first player to win on a sponsor exemption since Martin Laird in the 2020 Shriners Children’s Open.

Koepka, also the 2015 winner, closed with birdies on 17 and 18.

Billy Horschel (66) and Alex Noren (68) were 14 under, with Justin Thomas (66) another stroke back with two-time winner Hideki Matsuyama (69).

Rahm had a 67 to tie for 10th. The top-ranked former Arizona State star lives a few miles from the course.

“The only time I really felt in command of the golf swing was the first 18 holes and the last nine,” Rahm said about the week. “That’s about it. Everything else in between, there was a bit of doubt in a lot of the swings.”

With the leaders just getting started, Carlos Ortiz brought the wild 16th hole to life before noon with the second hole-in-one in two days.

His 8-iron shot on the 178-yard hole landed in front of the pin and rolled in, catching the left edge. A day after Sam Ryder sent the stadium crowd into frenzy when he holed out from 124 yards, the rowdy fans again threw bottles and cans on the turf in celebration, delaying play.

“You start trying to watch out for your head because I got actually nailed pretty hard on the back with a beer can on the back,” Ortiz said. “After that I was just trying to just avoid all the cans I could.”

The ace was the 11th at No. 16 since the tournament moved to the course in 1997. The last time there were two aces on 16 in a week was 1997 when Tiger Woods did it in the third round and Steve Stricker in the fourth.

Playing the back nine first, Ortiz followed with a 13-foot eagle putt on the par-4 17th — becoming the first player this season with consecutive eagles — and finished with a 67 to tie for 33rd at 7 under.

Play was delayed again for a lengthy cleanup on 16 about an hour later when Harry Higgs celebrated a par by lifting up his shirt, and playing partner Joel Dahmen took off his shirt and swung it over his head. Both were far out of contention.

The fans threw more garbage later after Thomas holed a 40-foot pitch from off the back of the green. Cantlay’s long birdie putt on 16, jumped up after hitting a mark on the green, leaving him with a 4-footer that he holed.

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