Scheffler wins PGA Phoenix Open to regain the world No. 1 spot
Scottie Scheffler surpassed Canada’s Nick Taylor on Sunday ninth to repeat as PGA Phoenix Open champion and overtake Rory McIlroy for the world rankings.
It was the 26-year-old American’s first title since winning last year’s Masters and returned him to the ranking top which he handed over to Northern Ireland’s McIlroy last October.
“It feels pretty good,” Scheffler said.
Scheffler fired a six-under-par 65 in Sunday’s final round to complete 72 holes at TPC Scottsdale at 19-under-265 and beat Taylor by two strokes for the $3.6 million grand prize and his fifth PGA title in his career.
“I’m just proud of how I fought,” said Scheffler. “I didn’t have my best stuff. I ground it today.
“I didn’t hit it well off the tee. My irons didn’t feel that sharp. But I played a great round of golf.”
Third-seeded Spain’s Jon Rahm, who also had a chance to become world number one with a win, settled for third on 270 after a closing 68 with two-time PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas fourth with 271 and Australian Jason Day, the 2015 PGA. Championship winner, fifth out of 272.
Scheffler became the seventh back-to-back Phoenix Open winner and first repeat champion since Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama in 2017.
He joined McIlroy and Max Homa as the only players to successfully defend PGA titles so far this season.
Scheffler won his first PGA title in Phoenix last year to launch an incredible two-month run that included wins at Bay Hill and the WGC Match-Play, before taking his first major title at Augusta National.
Taylor and Scheffler tied for the lead with six holes to play.
Scheffler reached the green in two on the par-5 13th and rolled into a clutch 22-foot eagle putt to reach 18-under, while Taylor answered with a seven-foot birdie putt to stay just one adrift.
On the famous par-3 16th hole, with 20,000 rowdy spectators in a stadium atmosphere, Scheffler was booed for missing the green with a 9 iron and Taylor’s 8 iron was angered by rolling left as well.
After lighting a bleacher, Scheffler chipped 15 feet past the gap as Taylor threw to just within eight feet.
Scheffler rolled into the tense par putt to elicit a loud roar from the crowd, pumping his right fist in delight at the performance, while Taylor missed right of the hole moments later for his first bogey of the day to return two stumbling with two holes to go .
“It was a big putt,” Scheffler said. “Absolutely great to see those go in.”
Taylor had a horseshoe lip out on a 16-foot birdie putt on the 17th and Scheffler followed with a birdie tap-in from within five feet to reach 19-under and lead by three. Taylor made a birdie of 18 to shoot 65, but it only narrowed the final margin.
– Scheffler makes early birdies –
Scheffler, who started the final round with a two-stroke lead over Rahm and Taylor, dropped 10-foot birdie putts on the second and par-5 third holes.
But Taylor also started hissing early on, dropping his approach on the first hole within four feet to make a birdie putt and adding a 10-foot birdie putt on the third.
Taylor holed just within 12 yards to make the sixth birdie, then joined Scheffler in six-foot birdie putts on the ninth before tying the American for the lead with a 1-yard birdie putt at 10 .
McIlroy fired a second straight 70 to finish on 280 and share 32nd.
Rickie Fowler reached the par-3 seventh hole with a 6 iron from 216 yards. It was the American’s first hole-in-one at a PGA event since 2015.