The year of the underdog continues with Nick Taylor scoring 68-65 across a wild weekend at the WM Phoenix Open to take home a playoff victory over Charley Hoffman. It may. not sound like much on paper considering a 120-1 longshot beat a 300-1 longshot, but the ending to this tournament was as good as PGA Tour golf gets.
For a while, it looked as if Hoffman, who has not won a PGA Tour event since 2016 and has just one top 10 since the beginning of 2021, would take home the trophy with a 64-64 closing kick. However, Taylor birdied three of his last four holes to match Hoffman at 21 under and take the tournament back to the 18th tee box for extra holes.
Taylor, who matched a course record scoring 60 on Thursday, birdied the 18th on a second straight try, and he aggressively walked that one in.
Incredibly, Hoffman covered him up with a 3 of his own to send it back to the 18th tee box for a second playoff hole. After a Hoffman miss from 28 feet, Taylor — you’re not going to believe this — again made birdie, this time for $1.5 million and his fourth career PGA Tour victory.
At 120-1, you would not expect Taylor to be one of the shorter odds winners so far this year, but the only player shorter was actually Wyndham Clark, who won the Pebble Beach Pro Am last week. It has been a crazy run of triple-digit odds champions on the PGA Tour to start 2024.
Farmers Insurance Open
|Pebble Beach Pro Am
Taylor nearly won this tournament a year ago, redeeming that loss by defeating Scottie Scheffler (who beat him last year) along with Hoffman and a host of other top players in the world. While his 120-1 odds were fairly long (not for this season, apparently), it became clear at some point down the stretch that Taylor is not somebody one should bet against. If they had played the 18th another 15 times, he would have birdied it as many times as it took to win. Another longshot victory, but undoubtedly a performance to remember. Grade: A+
Here are the rest of our grades for the 2024 Phoenix Open.
2. Charley Hoffman (-21): A 47-year-old with few playing privileges left nearly took down the world’s best on a scorer’s golf course across a marathon day that saw many of the last few groups play close to 30 holes. Hoffman trudged to the driving range in a back warming brace to prepare for a playoff following his second of two 64s on the day. Then, he nearly made two straight birdies to start the playoff. Hoffman was gracious in defeat, and his near-victory was a reminder of his peers’ talent and how difficult it is to win on the PGA Tour any given week. Grade: A+
T3. Scottie Scheffler (-18): He didn’t three-peat, but Scheffler’s run — both at this event and over the last few years — has nevertheless been spectacular. Sunday marked three straight top-three finishes at TPC Scottsdale, which might actually not be the most impressive thing he accomplished. We have become numb to it, but Scheffler now has 25 top 12 finishes in his last 29 starts on the PGA Tour dating back to the end of 2021. That just does not happen, and yet, it’s happening almost every week with Scheffler. Grade: A-
5. Sahith Theegala (-17): At multiple points throughout the week, it seemed as if Theegala was going to redeem the heartbreak he experienced a few years ago at TPC Scottsdale when he finished one shot out of a Scheffler-Patrick Cantlay playoff. He started wonderfully over the first two rounds but ran out of steam on Sunday in the final round with everybody charging. This was obviously a bummer for the emotionally-charged Theegala, but he remains an absolute blast to watch play and somebody who is fascinating to watch experience his round. Grade: A
T12. Justin Thomas (-12): Have you been paying attention? Have you seen the numbers? Have you tuned into the shots? Justin Thomas, folks … all the way back. He opened 69-65 before, like Theegala, fading a bit Sunday. However, the numbers are all there. He finished sixth from tee to green, which is where he’s improved the most over the last few months. He’s finding form at the time you want to find it with the Florida swing upcoming and major season on deck. Grade: A-
MC. Max Homa (E): Homa uncharacteristically struggled from tee to green this week. It’s been a bit of a bumpy start to the year for somebody who came in off a tremendous fall that included some heroics at the Ryder Cup in Rome. Following two top 15s to start 2024, he now has a T66 at Pebble Beach and a missed cut in Phoenix. A better barometer might be Riviera next week where he has absolutely crushed in recent years with four consecutive top 10 finishes (including a win and runner up). Regardless, his tee to green struggles in two consecutive events are something to consider. Grade: F