Waste Management Phoenix Open: ASU alums Reavie, Mickelson, Rahm hang in there but can’t finish strong on Sunday

Entering Sunday, the Sun Devil boys were all at the top of the leaderboard as Chez Reavie and Jon Rahm were 13 under and only behind Rickie Fowler who was at -14. Phil Mickelson set himself up to be in the 2nd to last group as he was 12 under.

Sunday Sun Devil Recap

Rahm, who had won two weeks prior to the WMPO, was a favorite coming in, but Sunday didn’t start well as an errant drive on the first hole put him in the right rough. He started with a bogey at the 1st, but he finished the front strong with two birdies on 6 and 8.

Rahm struggled to capitalize on birdie chances like at the 10th hole where he missed a heartbreaking 14-foot putt after a monster of a drive. After that, he bogeyed 12, 15 and 16 to fall out of contention.

Mickelson was fairly quiet until he buried a long right to left breaking putt on 16 to get to -15. He then hit a birdie putt again on the 17th hole to put himself within 2 shots of Gary Woodland with one hole to play. Phil needed some magic to hole out for eagle from the left bunkers over the water on 18, but a bad lie ended his chances and saw him get double-bogey to end the week.

Mickelson wasn’t the only Sun Devil in contention late though on Sunday as Chez Reavie was -17 heading into the par-4 18. Reavie hit a nice 3-wood down the middle, and from 145 out, he hit a missed the right side of the green with a slight draw that gave me a lengthy birdie putt to force a playoff. The man with a D-Backs logo on the side of his TaylorMade hat hit the left to right 21-foot putt to extend the weekend to a playoff.

Gary Woodland finished his incredible 7 under day with a near birdie on 18, and he was re-warming up as Reavie hit the birdie on 18 to force a playoff. The first hole of the playoff started with a replaying of 18, and Reavie put himself into great position to win as he was in the middle of the fairway, and Woodland had an awkward bunker shot similar to Mickelson’s earlier.

Woodland’s ball had a favorable lie though, and he was able to lift it over the rough in the bunker and just miss the front of the green. Reavie played another draw on his approach shot, and he missed it even more left than in regulation. The ball rolled off the green which forced him to chip.

Reavie’s chip was left short while Woodland hit a great lag putt for a tap-in par. Reavie had a chance to hit another clutch left to right putt, but it didn’t fall like last time.

Rest of the Year Outlook

This weekend was a great spark for Reavie and Mickelson as they had both their best finishes of the season this weekend with a 2nd and T-5th finish respectively. Mickelson struggled in his first two events as he got cut at the PGA West and finished T-45th at Torrey Pines. Reavie hasn’t won since 2008, and this was just his second-2nd place finish of his career.

As for Rahm, after two great starts in Hawaii (2nd place) and PGA West (1st), he has been bad the last two weekends in the final rounds. At Torrey Pines, he was at the top of the leaderboard after Friday but shot 75, 77 to end the weekend. After three great rounds at TPC Scottsdale, he couldn’t finish again as he shot +1 on Sunday to finish T-11th.

Staying at 2nd in the World Golf Rankings, expect Rahm to contend in just about every tournament and make a run at a major trophy.

Other Notes

  • The 16th hole had an entertaining Sunday with a Matt Kucher near hole in one, a Phil birdie, and a chip in from the rough
  • With 62 putts in two rounds, Jordan Spieth missed the cut even with Michael Phelps walking alongside himself and close friend Justin Thomas on Friday.
  • A fan favorite, Spieth had two incidents of fans disturbing his swing. The second one came on his second to last shot that could’ve pushed him to the cut line if it went in…
  • Rickie Fowler was atop the leaderboard at the start of Sunday, but like Rahm, he struggled to finish off his round as he shot +2 for the round.
  • No-hat Ollie Schniederjans finished T-3 and shot a 65 on Sunday for his second-best finish of his career. It was a nice recovery after putting a ball into the water on 17 on Thursday.

Final Thoughts

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The attendance was yet again record breaking as Friday and Saturday records were shattered. Sunday was surprisingly low with Phoenix favorites like Rahm, Mickelson, Reavie, and Fowler all in the top 5.

While the winner, Gary Woodland, felt the relief of winning on the Tour for the first time since 2013, this playoff win meant even more for his wife, family, and close friends. Woodland and his wife were expecting twins last March when one of the twins tragically died due to pregnancy difficulties. Gabby, Woodland’s wife, and Jaxson, their son, surprised Woodland on the green after the win.

The tournament seems to be a great place despite a couple fan engagement issues including a streaker and multiple fan disruption incidents during shots. Look for the PGA Tour to try to clean this up a little bit next year, but the craziness and partying of the 16th hole won’t be going anywhere in 2019.

 

 

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