Webb Simpson got the better of Tony Finau in a play-off to win the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale and break his fellow American’s heart.
Playing together in the final group, Webb Simpson birdied the final two holes to finish on 17-under par for the week—including a 17-foot putt on the closing hole to force a play-off after Finau missed an eight-foot putt of his own to win outright.
And, playing the 18th hole in the play-off, 2012 US Open champion Simpson repeated his birdie to claim his sixth PGA TOUR victory and deny Finau what has seemed a likely victory for the tall American.
Simpson looked to have lost his chance to win for the first time since the 2018 Players Championship when bizarrely finding the water on the 15th after his drive collided with the chair being used by an official.
That handed Finau a two-shot lead heading into the final three holes, the first of which they both parred with threes at the par-3 16th.
Simpson drove the green on the 17th to birdie and get one shot back on Finau and then sunk a lengthy putt on the final hole to force the play-off which he ultimately won.
“I didn’t have my best stuff but I hung in there,” Simpson said after getting his hands on the Phoenix Open trophy. “To come down to the last couple of holes and then birdie 18 twice feels great.”
“I didn’t think it was over (after 15), but I thought I am really going to have to do something special to get back in it.”
World number 13 Finau’s frustrations continued as he once again failed to add to his solitary PGA TOUR win at the 2016 Puerto Rico Open.
He said: “It’s a bitter week as I look back on it. But lots of stuff to be learned. I had a chance, a great chance to win this week. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen, but my game’s better than it’s ever been.
“He got the upper hand this time, but I love that guy, and that’s one hell of a finish. If you’re going to birdie 18 a couple of times, you’re probably going to win.”
The 2010 US Open champion Graeme McDowell, meanwhile, claimed his first European Tour title in six years as he recorded a two-victory over Dustin Johnson in the Saudi International.
It was an 11th victory on the European Tour for the Northern Irishman, who is also a five-time PGA TOUR winner, as he ended a solid week with a level-par round to become only the second winner of the Saudi International.
The inaugural winner Johnson had been looking to successfully defend the title but fell two shots short despite eagling the last hole to finish in outright second.
“It’s special,” McDowell said in his post-victory interview. “I’ve worked hard the last year and a half to be back up there one more time playing against these top guys. I feel now like I’m moving back in the right direction.”
McDowell moves from 104th in the Official World Golf Rankings to inside the top 50 on the back of the result.
“My big goal this year was to get back into the top 50 in the world and back competing in the big tournaments,” he added. “I’m really excited that it’s happened a little sooner than expected but hopefully it lays the foundations for a big year.”
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