Kyle Stanley knew exactly how Spencer Levin felt.
Taking advantage of Levin’s final-round meltdown, Stanley rebounded from a devastating loss to win the Phoenix Open in Scottsdale, Ariz., on Sunday, overcoming an eight-stroke deficit in a comeback as unlikely as his collapse last week at Torrey Pines.
“I really feel for him, experiencing that,” Stanley said about Levin, echoing what Brandt Snedeker said about Stanley last week.
“You don’t want to wish that upon anybody. He’s a very good player. Way too good of a player to not bounce back or recover.”
Stanley closed with a bogey-free 6-under-par 65, holing a 4-foot par putt on the par-4 18th to finish at 15-under 269. He earned $1,098,000 for his first PGA Tour title.
“You go from a very low point to a high point,” Stanley said. “I’m not sure I expected to maybe recover this quickly. I think the biggest challenge was seeing if I could put last week behind me. I think I did.”
Ben Crane had a 66 to finish a stroke back.
Levin, six strokes ahead entering the round and seven in front after one hole, shot a 75 to finish two strokes behind Stanley.
“It just wasn’t my day, obviously,” Levin said. “But I gave it away, simple as that. You have a six-shot lead and lose, you gave it away. My hat’s off to Kyle. He played a great round. He went and got it. But if you’ve got a six-shot lead and don’t win, then I think it’s on the player with the lead, for sure.”
In tears seven days ago in San Diego after blowing the big lead – dropping the final strokes with a triple-bogey 8 on the final hole – and losing to Snedeker in a playoff, Stanley cried again Sunday – this time tears of joy.
“I just want to thank my mom and dad. They’ve done a lot for me. I’m speechless,” Stanley said in the scoring area moments after the victory.
At Torrey Pines, Stanley led by seven shots early in the final round, and still had a four-shot lead as he stood on the tee at the par-5 18th.
But his third shot had too much spin and didn’t get high enough on the green, spinning down the slope and into the water. He three-putted from 45 feet for the triple bogey, then lost to Snedeker on the second playoff hole when his 5-foot par putt caught the right edge of the cup.
“I’m never going to forget that,” Stanley said. “But I think it makes this one a lot sweeter, just being able to bounce back. I’m kind of at a loss for words. I’m very grateful for the support I’ve gotten. It’s unbelievable. Unbelievable turnaround.”
The 24-year-old Stanley, one of the tour’s longest hitters at only 5-foot-11 and 165 pounds, birdied the par-5 13th and par-4 14th to take a one-stroke lead at 15-under.
D.J. Trahan had a 66 to finish fourth at 12 under, and Brendan Steele (64) was another stroke back.
Lawrie cruises to victory in Qatar
Former British Open champion Paul Lawrie chipped in for an eagle and a birdie on his way to winning the wind-shortened Qatar Open, shooting a 7-under-par 65 to hold off Jason Day and Peter Hanson in Doha, Qatar.
Lawrie finished with a 15-under total of 201 to win his seventh European Tour event and his second in Qatar. Day (65) and Hanson (67) tied for second, four strokes back.
It was Lawrie’s second win in a year – he also won the Andalucian Open last March – after a nine-year drought. Now in the top 45, he could contend for a 2012 Ryder Cup spot.
“I played lovely all week. But today I think tee to green, I can’t play much better than that,” said Lawrie, who also won the tournament in 1999.
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