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Scottie Scheffler Claims Maiden Victory at Phoenix Open

By: | Mon 14 Feb 2022 | Comments

SCOTTIE SCHEFFLER birdied the third hole of a sudden-death playoff against Patrick Cantlay to win the WM Phoenix Open, thus securing his maiden victory on the PGA Tour.

And he did so with Ted Scott on his bag - the man who caddied for Paul Azinger and Bubba Watson. They started working together at The RSM Classic last November, when Scheffler opened with a 63 before finishing in a tie for 57th place.

Scheffler made four bogeys in the middle of the final round in Phoenix but he knew that his game was there or thereabouts. After all, this was a player who had hit all 18 greens and shot a best-of-the-week, 9-under 62 just the day before. They just had to hang in there.

They did, and the partnership yielded a victory for the first time as Scheffler birdied four of his last six holes in regulation - nearly winning it in regulation - before ending it with a birdie putt from 25 feet on their third extra crack at the par-4 18th hole.

Scott reminded Scheffler that one putt, the 6-footer he missed at the end of regulation, didn’t define him.

“Yeah, you know, it's tough to really say exactly what's going on between us,” said Scheffler, who goes to fourth in the FedExCup, ninth in the world. “But I think we kind of sit on the same wavelength. We get along really well. He does a good job keeping me level-headed and making jokes and having fun.

“He's a really, really hard worker, which I appreciate. I have a lot of faith in him as a caddie and I trust him on the golf course, and it really helps me kind of believe in myself. Just having him out there by my side is extremely helpful.”

Scheffler, 25, held the outright 54-hole lead at the Houston Open before finishing in a tie for second that marked his second career runner-up on Tour and first since the 2021 World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play.

But he wasn’t obsessed with winning, seemingly the only thing he hadn’t done after shooting 59 in a Tour event, coming so close at the WGC-Dell Technologies in Austin, Texas  and beating world No. 1 Jon Rahm at the Ryder Cup.

“The only time I thought about it was when you guys asked about it,” he said of the hole in his resume.

Now, though, he’s done it, hoisting his first trophy one week after Tom Hoge broke through at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am and two after Luke List won the Farmers Insurance Open.

Scheffler’s victory marks the first string of three straight first-time winners in standalone events on Tour since Nate Lashley, Matthew Wolff and Dylan Frittelli won the 2019 Rocket Mortgage Classic, 3M Championship and John Deere Classic, respectively.

DP World Tour

RYAN FOX claimed his second DP World Tour victory, going wire to wire as he won the inaugural Ras Al Khalmah Classic by five shots.  

The Kiwi had turned a two-shot first-round lead into a three-shot advantage at the midway point and he doubled that heading into day four at Al Hamra Golf Club.

He saw the gap trimmed to two just after the turn as Pablo Larrazabal made a move but the Spaniard never really looked like catching Fox, who signed for a 69 that moved him to 22 under and gave him an ultimately comfortable victory.

England’s Ross Fisher finished alone in second, a shot clear of Larrazabal, Zander Lombard and the wonderfully-named German Hurly Long. Fox's victory is his first in a 72-hole stroke play event on the DP World Tour having won the 2019 ISPA Handa World Super 6 Perth title.

The last wire-to-wire winner over 72 holes was Nacho Elvira at the Cazoo Open last year and the last Kiwi to achieve the feat was Michael Campbell at the 2000 Johnnie Walker Classic.

"It was a bit of a struggle today," said Fox, who now moves into the top 10 in the DP World Tour Rankings. "Sleeping on a six-shot lead I did not sleep very well last night and obviously a couple of guys came at me early.

"I was a bit nervous and had that awful feeling in the pit of my stomach all day but I'm very happy with how I played. I hit a couple of great shots coming down the stretch and it was certainly nice walking up the last with my putter in my hand knowing I had six putts for it."

Larrazabal put his approach to 14 feet at the second and made a two-putt birdie on the par-five third to trim the lead to four as Fox failed to take advantage of the driveable first and the par five. Fox missed a putt from around a foot to drop a shot at the fourth but for the seventh time this week, he responded with a birdie as he got up and down from the sand on the driveable fifth.

A bogey followed after a poor tee-shot on the the sixth and Larrazabal holed from nearly 40 feet on the seventh to reduce the lead to just two.

Fox took advantage of the par-five eighth and did well to make par on the ninth and tenth after poor tee-shots but Larrazabal once again holed a long putt - this time from 25 feet on the 11th to get the gap back to two.

Long putts were the order of the day and Fox drained a 44-footer on the 12th before a stunning bunker shot ahead on the 13th set up another gain and he had some breathing space with a four-shot lead.

A Larrazabal bogey on the 17th saw him sign for a 69 and he was replaced in second by Fisher, who completed his 66 with a two-putt birdie on the last.

The 2010 Ryder Cup player had also taken advantage of the other three par fives and the short par fours on the front nine, holing lengthy putts on the 11th and 12th and dropping shots on the ninth and 15th.

He was four back as he signed his card but Fox hit stunning second into the last to make a two-putt birdie and seal a five-shot win.

Long was bogey-free as he matched his lowest ever DP World Tour round - posted over this layout last week - with a 64, while Lombard dropped a single shot in a 65.

Ladies European Tour

IT WASN’T pretty but Esther Henseleit won’t care as she successfully defended her Magical Kenya Open title.

Henseleit overturned a three-shot deficit as Linnea Strom’s game fell apart on the final day at Vipingo Ridge, carding a two-under 70 to end the week on two under and a shot clear of Spain's Marta Sanz Barrio.

The German had five birdies with three bogeys to secure her second Ladies European Tour title, three years on from her maiden victory in the same event. It was cancelled it 2020 and 2021 because of the pandemic.

"It was a bit of a struggle, but I made it and I'm pretty proud of my last few holes," Henseleit said. "I was shaking over the putt on 17 and I was shaking down the 18th. I have been struggling with the putter over the 18 months so it is pretty cool that I holed that one."

Henseleit recovered from an opening bogey to birdie four of her next seven holes and reached the turn tied with Strom, who carded two bogeys and two birdies over her front nine to stay on three under.

But Strom tumbled out of contention with three bogeys in a five-hole stretch from the 10th, while Sanz Barrio charged up the leaderboard by following a birdie at the 10th with three straight gains from the 12th to get within two of the lead.

Henseleit cancelled out a birdie at the 11th with a dropped shot at the 14th and suffered another bogey after finding water off the tee at the par-three 17th, cutting her lead to one, before holing from eight feet at the last to save par and complete a dramatic victory.

Strom bogeyed two of her last three holes to close a back-nine 41 and end the week four shots back on two over, a shot clear of Germany's Sophia Hausmann in fourth spot.

Scotland's Michele Thomson finished in a share of eighth place after rounds of 75 and 74 over the weekend, with Wales' Becky Morgan a further stroke back in tied-12th.

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