The PGA Tour’s youth movement continued Sunday as Hideki Matsuyama defeated Webb Simpson on the fourth playoff hole to successfully defend his title in at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
The back nine of the TPC Scottsdale is the best non-major back nine on tour. The holes have risk-reward possibilities and the leaderboard tends to be very fluid. Matsuyama was able to take advantage of the birdie holes, while 54-hole leader Ben An faltered down the stretch.
Simpson fired a final round 64 to post the clubhouse lead. Matsuyama had a 20-foot put on the 72nd hole to win, but left it an inch short, right in the center of the hole.
The two exchanged pars on the first three playoff holes. On the third playoff hole (No. 10), Simpson did the same thing as Matsuyama as he left his 15-foot putt to win one roll short of the hole and the win.
Matsuyama clinched the win with a birdie on the fourth playoff hole (No. 17). Matsuyama also won the tournament a year ago on the fourth playoff hole.
– Matsuyama is the best player in the world at this point. Tee to green, he is outstanding and when he is making putts, very few players can beat him.
– He’s the first Asian player to record four wins on tour.
– Matsuyama’s win is the first time a player has won a tournament in a playoff in back-to-back years since Nick Faldo won the 1989 and 1990 Masters in the same fashion.
– Seemingly every one of Matsuyama’s follow-throughs is one-handed and you’d think the the ball is headed off the property, but is often right down the middle. Not sure if it is some sort of tick Matsuyama has developed in competition, but it is strange every time I see it.
– I understand Simpson was hitting 3-wood on the 18th in the playoff, but it was amazing to see Matsuyama hit it 70 yards past a fellow pro.
– Simpson’s second-place finish represents his best result since his win in Las Vegas in 2014. Part of the drop-off can be attributed to the ban on belly putters. The success with the belly putter helped Simpson become a top-20 player on Tour and major champion (2012 U.S. Open).
– Simpson has been the poster child of conventional putter struggles since the rule change. Despite his strong week, there was still some hesitation in his stroke as he left a few putts in the playoff short.
– The 16th hole provided its fair share of theatrics per usual, but one aspect that bothers me every year is that the officials set up very difficult pin placements on the hole. With the exception of Friday’s location, every pin placement was tucked and very tough to get to, especially as the greens firmed up in the afternoon. If I’m setting up the course, I put the pin in very receptive areas to maximize to roars on the hole.
– As mentioned in the preview, 16 gets all the hype, but 17 is just as fun. The driveable par-4 again had a big say in determining the champion.
– Rickie Fowler was on the edge of contention throughout the event and finished up with a strong 64 to finish T-4, his best finish of the season.
– After a opening round 77 in Dubai, Tiger withdrew citing back spasms. Who knows what kind of setback this is for him, but after watching the first round, you could tell that Tiger’s swing was a mess.
– Rumors of Tiger’s return to his manic weightlifting routine could be contributing to his health problems. Just look at this picture showing his physique in December compared to this week
— Andy Whalen (@Drewdetang) February 5, 2017
– Another point on Tiger’s struggles – I don’t understand why he doesn’t mold his schedule to fit his diminished game or at least change it to help him ease back into competition. I understand he has played Torrey Pines and the Dubai event for years, but those are challenging courses against elite fields.
– His next two events, Riviera and the Honda, are more of the same. Him not playing at the CareerBuilder or Sony where there were a plethora of low scores, was a missed opportunity. Even if he finished back in the pack, he still has the ability to make a ton of birdies and at the very least build some confidence.
– Sergio was able to hold off Henrik Stenson to win in Dubai. The victory was Sergio’s 12th on the European Tour (he has nine PGA Tour victories).
– Despite his choking dog tendencies, Sergio has to be penciled in as one of the early favorites for The Masters.
Drunk Fan(s) of the Week:
Where to start? Plenty of candidates in Phoenix, but these two stand out.
— Grant Boone (@grantboone) February 5, 2017
The drama with that video was what made it – you knew that fall was coming, but just didn’t know when gravity would take over.
The next is a revelation for anyone who has been associated with The Otter Room. Who knew Brendan Steele was McCoy this whole time?
“Steele fucked my mom” is a pretty wild thing to yell but alright pic.twitter.com/3peTGMnJut
— Fore Play (@ForePlayPod) February 4, 2017
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the reference….
Otter Room Picks:
My dark horse Gary Woodland missed the cut, but Phil was right there heading to the back nine. Lefty was three back after birdieing the 13th, but then went bogey, bogey, par, double bogey on the next four holes to fall out of contention. Mickelson then birdied the final hole to finish at -10, T-16.
Shot of the Week:
Unfortunately no holes-in-one on 16 this year, but Jon Rahm wore a Pat Tillman jersey every day at 16 and the ASU alum got the very pro-ASU crowd behind him.
— Mark McClune (@MarkMcClune) February 2, 2017
However, the Shot of the Week honor has to go to Matsuyama’s winning putt on the fourth playoff hole.
Stay tuned to The Otter Room this week for a complete preview of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.