Taylor beats Hoffman in playoff to win PGA Phoenix Open
LOS ANGELES, Feb 12, 2024 (BSS/AFP) - Canada's Nick Taylor won his fourth career PGA Tour title on Sunday, making three consecutive birdies at the 18th hole to defeat American Charley Hoffman in a playoff thriller and capture the Phoenix Open.
Taylor, last year's Phoenix Open runner-up, charged down the final holes before making dramatic putts at 18 before a roaring crowd to outduel Hoffman.
"I tried to draw on last year. I didn't have it early on. I made some ridiculous par saves," Taylor said. "That 18th tee shot has given me trouble in the past. To hit three pretty good ones and birdie it three times is amazing."
Taylor birdied three of the last four holes in regulation to fire a bogey-free six-under par 65 and match Hoffman on 21-under 263 after 72 holes at TPC Scottsdale.
After his birdie from just inside 10 feet at the 18th forced the playoff, Taylor sank a birdie from just inside 15 feet on the first playoff hole and, after Hoffman extended the playoff with a birdie from just beyond seven feet, sank a birdie putt from just inside 12 feet at 18 for the victory.
"I drew on that last putt from last year. I had that putt when I finished second," Taylor said. "I was seeing the lines great all week so it was amazing that went in too."
Taylor won last year's PGA Canadian Open, the first Canadian since 1954 to win the event, and also took the 2014 Sanderson Farms Championship and 2020 Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
His tension-packed finish closed out a marathon day when he had to play 30 regulation holes due to earlier weather disruptions.
"It was a marathon day," Taylor said. "We signed our scorecard after the third round and had eight minutes to go to the tee. I don't know if that rattled me a little bit but it was just a long day.
"So to find my swing and make some birdies the last nine or 10 holes was incredible."
- 'Left the door open' -
Hoffman, who nearly had his first PGA victory since 2016, settled for his first top-10 finish in two years after a closing 64.
"I had some nice putts go in down the stretch," Hoffman said. "Unfortunately left the door open and Nick came in and seized the moment and birdied the 18th hole three times in a row. Hats off to him."
Taylor birdied three of the last four holes on the front and back nines, his closing clutch birdie putts including a three-footer at the par-5 15th and another from just inside six feet at the par-3 16th.
After trading intense birdies on the first playoff hole, Hoffman found a left fairway bunker and Taylor was in the right rough on the second extra hole. Taylor landed his approach just inside 12 feet while Hoffman made par from 28 feet only for Taylor to end matters.
Top-ranked defending champion Scottie Scheffler failed in his bid to match legend Arnold Palmer as the only players to win the Phoenix Open three consecutive times.
He settled for sharing third on 266, three off the pace, with fellow American Sam Burns. American Sahith Theegala was on 267 with countrymen Jordan Spieth and Maverick McNealy on 270.
A 3 1/2-hour rain delay on Thursday disrupted the tournament schedule, setting the stage for a long battle and a late shootout Sunday.
There were incidents of unruly fan behavior at the event, known for its party atmosphere and huge crowds.