2022 WM Phoenix Open leaderboard, grades: Scottie Scheffler survives three-hole playoff for first PGA Tour win


Everybody forgot about Scottie Scheffler. With Sahith Theegala trying to hold off multiple top-20 players in the world — and multi-time PGA Tour winners Brooks Koepka, Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele jostling for the lead late at the 2022 WM Phoenix Open — Scheffler came out of seemingly nowhere at the end to get the first PGA Tour victory of his career in a three-hole playoff.

Scheffler played in the final group on Sunday. He was paired with the Theegala, the tournament darling, and Koepka, the defending Phoenix Open champion. So he was in the mix from the beginning following a wild 62 on Saturday, but after an even-par 35 on the front nine on Sunday and a birdie-par-bogey start on the back, he had five players in front of him on the leaderboard an only an ember of hope remaining for the week.

Then he made some magic. Scheffler closed with four birdies in his last six holes and missed a 5-foot putt on the 72nd hole that would have won it for him in regulation. It was a ball-striking show. The total distance on those four birdies coming home was only 17 feet, but it turns out he was saving his putter for the playoff.

After two par-par holes with Cantlay to start the playoff, Scheffler hit his approach on the third (all of them No. 18 at TPC Scottsdale, by the way) to 26 feet. He poured that one in ahead of Cantlay’s putt, turning and screaming at caddie Ted Scott, knowing it was likely for the win. Cantlay missed, and Scheffler — after 71 PGA Tour starts — had earned his first victory.

He could barely speak to CBS Sports’ Amanda Balionis directly after the emotional win in a monster field like this one, and that continued in his post-round press conference. “I really don’t know what to say,” said Scheffler. “My head is kind of spinning right now.”

It feels wrong to say “it’s about time” regarding a 25-year-old who isn’t even close to 100 PGA Tour starts, but that has been a bit of the feeling surrounding Scheffler, given everything else he’s accomplished: a 59 in the FedEx Cup Playoffs, a singles win over Jon Rahm at the Ryder Cup, and six consecutive top-20 finishes at major championships.

The crazy part about this one, though? After he narrowly making the cut by a stroke on Friday and being overshadowed all weekend by more romantic stories and more accomplished players, the guy everyone expected to get his first victory in 2022 found the winner’s circle when everyone we least expected it. Grade: A+

Here are the rest of our grades for the 2022 Phoenix Open.

Patrick Cantlay (2nd): Cantlay was great, but he really had the tournament in his hands down the stretch and didn’t take advantage. His normally precise ball-striking lagged a bit, and he averaged just 51 feet in proximity on the second nine on Sunday. He continues to play great, but it felt like a tournament he probably should have jumped up and grabbed at the end. Regardless, this is his sixth (!) consecutive top-10 finish, made even more impressive by the quality of field this week and the fact that he was playing this tournament for the first time in his career. He’s going to be scary over the next month, and for his sake, I hope he carries the momentum into Augusta National. Grade: A

Sahith Theegala (T3): He didn’t win the golf tournament, but boy it felt like he won the week. After a bogey on No. 17 knocked him out of it, Theegala couldn’t muster the birdie he needed on the 72nd to get into a playoff. However, his measured-but-excited demeanor and attitude that conveyed equal parts wonder that he was in this position to begin with but also self-confidence that he belonged could not have been more endearing. Neither could his reaction after the tournament as he gathered with family and let the emotion flow. What a player, and what a contrast to the “how many millions will this top-10 player receive for going to Saudi Arabia?” questions of the last few weeks. Grade: A+

Brooks Koepka (T3): After some time in the metaphorical desert, Koepka coincidentally resurfaced in the actual one with his first top 10 at a full-field event since the Open Championship at Royal St. George’s last summer. His statistical profile was not perfect, but it was great to see him get back in the mix at a non-major championship. He fell one shot short and was a botched up-and-down on No. 16 from getting into that playoff with Cantlay and Scheffler and perhaps winning this event in back-to-back years and for the third time in his career. Hopefully, the quality of his play, which he attributed to being truly healthy for the first time in a while, continues on into the Florida swing. Grade: A

Justin Thomas (T8) and Jon Rahm (T10): I pair them together here because they were aligned on the leaderboard nearly all week and their statistical profiles were similar. Thomas finished second in strokes gained tee to green, and Rahm finished third, but between the two they made next to nothing on the greens. It’s a lesson on the importance of ball-striking and how it can help you as it relates to finishing in the top 10. It’s  also a lesson that you have to make at least a few putts to win golf tournaments, and neither J.T. nor Rahm did that at all over the weekend (or throughout this event). The pair made just nine putts longer than 8 feet between them over four days. Grade: B+

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