It was already a bizarre week for the Rules of Golf, and then along came the final round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Here’s how things ended up out at TPC Scottsdale, where Rickie Fowler hung on for an elusive victory despite an unusual penalty that helped erase a five-shot lead:
Leaderboard: Rickie Fowler (-17), Branden Grace (-15), Justin Thomas (-14), Matt Kuchar (-12), Chez Reavie (-12), Bubba Watson (-12)
What it means: After a number of close calls in recent years, including a playoff loss in 2016 and a blown 54-hole lead last year, Fowler has finally captured the WMPO title. But it wasn’t without controversy, as he made a triple bogey on No. 11 after chipping his ball into the water and receiving an additional penalty shot when his ball rolled back into the water after he had placed it back into play.
Grace started the day seven shots back, but at one point took a one-shot advantage as he sought his second PGA Tour title. But Fowler bounced back with birdies on Nos. 15 and 17, and despite a final-round 74, he got back into the winner’s circle at an official PGA Tour event for the first time since the 2017 Honda Classic.
Round of the day: There were plenty of low scores through the first three days, but Billy Horschel’s 4-under 67 Sunday proved to be the best of the bunch. Horschel went out early and made three birdies and an eagle against just one bogey in chilly and rainy conditions. It helped him move up 26 spots and finish the week in a tie for 39th at 5 under.
Best of the rest: Reavie lost this event in a playoff last year, but a 3-under 68 gave him a share of fourth place in his return to TPC Scottsdale. Reavie opened with nine straight pars before a birdie on No. 10, adding an eagle on No. 15 on a day when he failed to drop a shot.
Biggest disappointment: With Fowler struggling, even before the theatrics on No. 11, his playing partners were unable to put any pressure on him. Thomas and Kuchar combined to shoot 5 over, with Thomas grabbing third thanks to a 72nd-hole birdie after the tournament’s champ was decided. Kuchar stumbled to a closing 75, making only one birdie while adding three back-nine bogeys amid a number of visibly frustrated swings.
Shot of the day: With Grace in the water on 17 in the group ahead of him, Fowler regained the lead with a par on the raucous 16th. But then he stepped to the tee at the short par-4, a hole that burned him three years ago, and striped a drive that gave him an eagle chance. After two putts from there he was able to cruise to victory down the final fairway.
Quote of the day: “I’ll tell you what, it wasn’t fun. But other than two holes it was a pretty darn good round of golf.” – Fowler