Waste Management Phoenix Open: Twist of Fate as Kyle Stanley Wins

Carlos TorresContributor IFebruary 5, 2012

Stanley wins the Waste Management Phoenix Open, for his first pro win.
Stanley wins the Waste Management Phoenix Open, for his first pro win.Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Kyle Stanley, who lost a five-stroke lead in the final round of last week's Farmers Insurance Open, came from eight shots behind the leader to win the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Stanley must feel some relief after seeing how it will be somebody else answering all the questions about a major collapse in the final round.

Stanley started the day in fifth place and shot a bogey-free six-under(-par) 65 for 15-under(-par) total for the tournament, on route to his first PGA Tour win.

The 54-hole leader, Spencer Levin, started the day with a six-stroke advantage over Webb Simpson, but shot four-over(-par) today to finish at 13-under(-par) in third place.

Ben Crane shot five-under(-par) today and finished at 14-under(-par) in second place. D.J. Trahan finished at 12-under(-par), good enough for fourth place.

Tied for fifth place at 11-under(-par) were Simpson, Bubba Watson, Kevin Na and Brendan Steele.

Levin led Stanley, Crane and rookie John Huh by four shots as he made the turn after shooting 36 in the front nine.

Stanley and Crane shot 32 in the front-nine.

For Stanley it was the product of three birdies. Meanwhile for Crane, he went birdie-eagle-birdie after the opening hole, but a bogey on the par-four ninth hole dropped him to three-under(-par) for the front-nine.

Fast forward to the 13th hole. Stanley's huge drive went 376 yards and set him up for a birdie chance. He then made a two-putt birdie to get to 14-under(-par) at the moment.

Crane, who was playing on Stanley's threesome along with Greg Chalmers, also made birdie on the 13th hole to pull to within one shot.

Then Levin, who was playing on the group behind Stanley on the 12th hole, made his second straight bogey. This, product of back-to-back, up-and-down missed chances from unfortunate green-side bunker visits.

Then Stanley came back on the par-four 14th hole and made his second straight birdie to take the outright lead at 15-under(-par.)

Levin was not going away easily and made birdie on the par-four 14th hole to grab a share of the lead again.

But Levin's joy was short lived as the par-five 15th hole was the one who sealed his fate.

Levin's drive went to a cactus in the waste area just at the right of the fairway. In order to avoid dropping a shot, he went to his belly putter on the second shot and putted the ball back to the rough area.

Incredible and gutsy if you ask me, as he went out of the shot with cactus spines on the side of his shirt and the back of his pants.

Then to add insult to injury, his third shot was short of the green as it found the water in the front.

Levin was distraught, he could not believe it. He went down on his knees in disbelief. He ended-up with a double-bogey on the hole and left two-shots behind.

Levin couldn't climb back the rest of the way. But the future looks bright for him. 

If the collapse-and-then-win trend continues, Levin's chances at Pebble Beach next week look great right now.

Crane went birdie-bogey-birdie after the 14th hole to keep the pressure on Stanley down the stretch.

And Stanley made things interesting, as he went to his driver on the 18th hole and almost went out-of-bounds to the left. The shot hit the wall of the stands, and he took a free-drop for his second shot.

Stanley was right on the money as his second shot stopped 22 feet above the hole. 

Then Stanley putted with his third and almost made the birdie-putt, leaving it just under four feet from the cup.

He then made the par-putt to close his tournament, and hit the clubhouse as the leader.

When Levin's second shot from the fairway bunker missed the hole it became official. Stanley had won his first PGA tournament, and he was emotional on the TV interview afterwards.

And it couldn't be for any less. He showed great resiliency and mental fortitude this week to be able to return after last week's collapse and make a charge on Sunday and win this week.

It seems like that learning lesson made him a stronger golfer this week and it only remains to be seen how it helps him boost his season. 

Stanley could very well become this season's Webb Simpson. Stay tuned.