Thursday, February 29, 2024

Nick Taylor wins Phoenix Open with birdie on 2nd hole of playoff with Charley Hoffman

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Nick Taylor had an emotional victory last year in the Canadian Open, capped by an unforgettable tackle.

The 35-year-old Canadian made more memories at the Phoenix Open with a massive rally to take down Charley Hoffman.

Taylor rallied from three down with four holes left in regulation and made an 11-foot birdie putt to beat Hoffman on the second hole of a playoff Sunday, capping another wild week at the Phoenix Open.

“The finish was pretty dreamlike and hitting all those putts was a lot of fun,” Taylor said. “The atmosphere was incredible all week.”

Taylor fed off it late in his round after laboring through ideal scoring conditions most of the afternoon. He found the rhythm at just the right time, closing a 6-under 65 with a 9-foot birdie putt on the par-4 18th to force the playoff. He and the 47-year-old Hoffman finished at 21-under 263.

Both players birdied the extra hole and hit the green on No. 18 a second time — Taylor from the right rough, Hoffman from the left fairway bunker. Hoffman left his putt short and Taylor birdied the hole for the third time in less than an hour as the sun dipped below the horizon.

“I didn’t really falter, so I’ve got to give Nick credit,” said Hoffman, who hasn’t won on tour since 2016 and has dealt with back issues in recent years. “He birdied four of the last five holes he played. Hats off to him for doing that. ”

Taylor won his fourth PGA Tour title to end a chaotic week of weather delays and the rare decision to close the gates — and, gulp, cut off liquor sales — when things started to get out of hand Saturday.

Taking advantage of the first pleasant day of the week in the desert, Hoffman moved into contention by finishing off a 64 on TPC Scottsdale’s Stadium in the morning to complete his weather-delayed third round.

Hoffman was 4 under in a three-hole stretch on the back nine and had a three-shot lead when he finished a second straight 64.

Taylor wouldn’t let him grab the trophy just yet.

He had an emotional finish at the 2023 Canadian Open, making a 72-foot eagle putt on the fourth playoff hole to become the first Canadian in 69 years to win his national open.

The win became more memorable when a security guard tackled Adam Hadwin, Taylor’s friend and fellow Canadian player, as he rushed the green in celebration.

Hadwin was there to congratulate Taylor again in the desert, but managed to stay on his feet this time.

“He wore the same outfit, but thankfully wasn’t tackled by a security guard,” Taylor said.

Taylor put himself with a course record-matching 60 in the opening round, his five-shot lead matching the largest after 18 holes on the PGA Tour since 1983.

Taylor finished off a third-round 68 in the morning, but stagnated after a birdie at No. 9. He came to life with consecutive birdies starting on No. 15 and finished with a three-birdie finishing flourish on 18 after just missing a birdie putt on No. 17.

“That 18th tee shot has given me trouble in the past,” said Taylor, runner-up to Scottie Scheffler last year in the event. “To hit three pretty good ones and birdie it three times is amazing.”

Scheffler, the two-time reigning champion, surged into contention with five straight birdies to complete his third round, shooting 66 in the morning despite putting off the green into a bunker for a bogey on No. 18.

The world No. 1 briefly held the lead early in the final round before his putter went cold, ending his bid for the PGA Tour’s first three-peat in 13 years. Scheffler nearly aced the par-3 stadium 16th hole, but was too far behind to catch Hoffman. He shot 66 to tie Sam Burns for third at 18 under.

“I’d say I’m a bit frustrated,” Scheffler said. “I didn’t really finish the way I wanted to, but I gave myself a good chance this week.”

So did Taylor — and he finished it off.


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