One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Treasure

Posted: February 7, 2012 by Kodi in Hitting the Greens

Another collapse took place in this years Waste Management Phoenix Open

Kyle Stanley lost a 3 stroke lead last week but came back in big fashion this week

Spencer Levin must be looking forward to next week then . . .

It was just one week ago that the PGA Tour had written Kyle Stanley a check for the Farmers Insurance Open in Torrey Pines but that was before he blew a 3 stroke lead on the 72nd hole. He went on to lose to Brandt Snedeker on the 2nd playoff hole but it seems that the tides have turned and this week Stanley found himself on the positive end of an epic collapse. Anyone who plays golf has dealt with the mental aspect of the game and in the past two weeks PGA fans have seen a couple of terrible breakdowns. This week it was Spencer Levin who lost a huge lead but he didn’t have to drop three strokes on the final hole to lose the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Spencer Levin had a 6 stroke lead heading into the final round and after the first hole he actually had a 7 stroke lead. Levin would birdie the 3rd hole before bogeying 4 of the next 9 and had hopes of holding on to the victory after getting a birdie on the 14th hole. Then Levin teed off on the 15th with a four stroke lead and anything but another epic collapse would keep him from the winners circle. The 15th is the third easiest hole on the course but when Levin ended up in a cactus forcing his third shot to spin off the green and into the water it was the beginning of the end. He went on to score a double bogey and finished the round +4 with a 75 and he went from -17 to -13.

“It just wasn’t my day obviously, but I gave it away, simple as that” Levin continued “you have a six shot lead and lose, you gave it away.” Clearly blowing a huge lead is emotional and it has to be awkward to stand in front of the cameras and say “I fucked up” but amazingly these guys handle it in a professional manner.

Spencer had shot a tournament low 63 during the 2nd round propelling him to the top of the leaderboard but his difficult Sunday led to a 3rd place finish. Levin joined the PGA Tour in 2005 and is coming off of his best season making 25 of 31 cuts and 6 top 10 finishes but he is still after that elusive Championship but hopes to bounce back like Stanley did this week. “My hat’s off to Kyle. He played a great round. He went and got it. But if you’ve got a six stroke lead and don’t win, then I think it’s on the player with the lead for sure.”

Kyle Stanley turned pro in 2009 but his rookie year wasn’t until 2011 when he netted 4 top 30 finishes in his first 7 starts. He finished the year with 4 top 10 finishes, 9 top 25’s and made the cut in 22 of 28 events, while his highest finish was 2nd place at the John Deere Classic. After last week’s collapse Stanley had another 2nd place finish and this week he shook it off and shot 69, 66, 69 in the first three rounds to give him a chance on Sunday. Stanley was 8 shots behind Levin heading into the final round but his 6 birdies and no bogey 65 was enough to put him a -15 and secure his first win. This time Stanley’s million dollar giant check would actually be given to him and the young man showed tremendous composure after last week’s debacle.

“You go from a very low point to a high point,” Stanley told reporters. “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. “ he emphatically said “I think I did.”

Stanley played cleanly in the final round and finished just a single stroke ahead of Ben Crane who also made a late charge. Crane was -4 through the first 4 holes after shooting par on 1 then going birdie-eagle-birdie on 2,3,4. He gave a stroke back when he bogeyed 9 but came back to birdie 14 and 15 but the bogey he recorded on 16 may have been the one that kept him from sitting atop the leaderboard. Crane birdied 17 but his approach shot on 18 rolled off the green and par just wasn’t enough. He finished with a 66 scoring a -14 270 just a single shot behind Stanley. Crane is a grizzled veteran after turning pro in 1999 but he has just 4 Tour victories although he had 4 top 10 finishes last season including a victory at the McGladrey Classic.

It just happened to be number 16 that sealed Crane’s fate. It is a par 3 that became known as “the Coliseum” due to the stands built around the entire 162 yard hole. It is one of the shorter par 3’s on the Tour and ranked 143rd out of 206 par 3’s in stroke average last year, but sometimes the crowd can get to you. There is a lot of pressure in front of crowds like that and there is no other hole like it in the PGA Tour. There is a tournament challenge on that hole, Waste Management’s annual “Going for the Green” contest which accumulates the total distance from the pin over all 4 rounds. The winner has $25,000 donated to the Keep America Beautiful a green initiative program. This year Rod Pampling won with a distance of 40 feet 1 inch, which is the lowest total distance for a champion since the contest started, but he finished tied for 15th with a score of -8.

The biggest story here is obviously another collapse by a player without a PGA Tour victory, but it’s even bigger because the young man that choked it away last week was on top this week. “I didn’t pay much attention to the leaderboards until maybe four or five holes left” Stanley said. “Once I made a couple birdies there on the back nine, I figured I was maybe getting close” he went on “I made the mistake of think about [winning] probably all of the final round last week. So, this week, I just kind of tried to just let it happen.” Well it happened and Stanley got that first victory under his belt and you better remember the name because he has many more ahead in his future.

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