The Biggest Winners and Losers of the 2014 Waste Management Open
You may want to find out who Kevin Stadler is picking to win the Super Bowl because the new winner of the Waste Management Open in Scottsdale is one lucky dude.
Stadler played sure and steady throughout the tournament, going under par each day and eventually ending at 16 under. He was on the 18th tee when Bubba Watson, who had been leading for most of the weekend imploded, missed the green and then a putt to tie it, assuring Stadler of his first PGA victory.
The Waste Management Open, played at the stadium-style TPC course, saw more than 189,000 fans on Saturday. That is not a misprint. It broke the record for single-day attendance at a sporting event.
It looked like one big party on the famous par-three 16th hole where rowdy fans sit in bleachers and egg on the pros to hit it close. As far as the fans were concerned, their Super Bowl party had already started.
Where else would you see Phil Mickelson, after bogeying a hole, grab a football and toss it into the crowd? Where else would you see golfers shed their normally dour expressions and whoop it up after hitting a ball close to the cup?
Check out the winners and the losers in what seemed like a great party, uh, golf tournament.
Winner: Hunter Mahan
After a winless 2013 season, Hunter Mahan's push to almost the top of the leaderboard has to be good news. As is his style, he challenged the leaders with an assured 68 on Sunday. Mahan has long been a consistent player with the ability to win big. His play in Scottsdale is a sign of good things to come.
Loser: Phil Mickelson
Even though he seemed to be having a great time tossing footballs into the stands and signing tons of autographs, last year’s Waste Management winner had his share of trouble in the desert this time around. Mickelson, who injured his back last week, entered the tournament as an act of goodwill and maybe a bit of optimism. Still, he ended up in a mediocre tie for 42nd at three under par.
Winner: Hideki Matsuyama
At one point the hot-handed 21-year-old had a real shot at winning the tournament. Hideki Matsuyama ended the final day at two under and a tie for fourth and showed why, next to Jordan Spieth, he may be the most exciting newcomer on the tour.
Loser: Y.E. Yang
Y.E. Yang hasn’t done much since he won two events in 2009, including the PGA Championship. In fact, he had pretty much dropped off the PGA radar with a world ranking of 320th. So, when he began the tournament by shooting a 64 and moving into first place, it looked like he had resurrected himself. Sad to say, Yang returned to form by shooting 73-75-75 in the last three rounds, ending in a tie for 70th.
Winner: Graham DeLaet
Graham DeLaet blistered the course on Saturday with a six-under 65, but who could have predicted he would repeat the effort on the final day.
The young Canadian is growing more confident with every tournament and almost pushed himself into the lead on Sunday. If he had not shot a 72 on Day 2, he probably would be champ now.
Either way, he is definitely a force to be reckoned with.
Loser: Keegan Bradley
Keegan Bradley started strong with a well-played 66 in the first round but then lost his way in the desert by shooting an 80 in the second round. That second 18 included seven holes over par with a triple on the par-five third hole. It was the first missed cut of the season for Bradley who hadn’t done so in 13 tournaments.
Winner: Charles Howell III
With his finish in a tie for sixth place, Charles Howell III has now placed in the top 10 in five of his last nine outings.
That's pretty darn good no matter how you slice it. Last year he finished in the top 10 five times the entire season.
Considered one of golf's best ball-strikers, he shot all four rounds under par this weekend.
Loser: Marc Leishman
The easy-going 31-year-old Australian with the big swing entered the tournament as a favorite after finishing in a tie for second at last week’s Farmer’s Insurance Open. But, Marc Leishman never gave himself a chance, scoring under par just three times in two rounds and missing the cut.
Winner: Brendan Steele
Brendan Steele scorched the desert course with a 62 on Saturday and catapulted himself into the top 10. It was also the lowest score of the tournament.
His tie for sixth marked his best finish this season.
Loser: Bubba Watson
Bubba Watson surely didn't think this is how it would end. For him, second place is definitely a losing proposition considering he led most of the way on Sunday.
Creative is how most people may describe Watson whose unorthodox swing put him in a lot of trouble and did not allow him to close the door on the tournament. Even on the final hole on Sunday after overshooting the green, he had a very real chance of sending things into a playoff.
Instead, he missed a relatively short putt. He blew it.
Watson has not won since his Masters victory in 2012, but he sure came close this weekend. Ultimately, it may bode well for him going forward.