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Stanley rebounds, rallies for victory in Phoenix Open

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Associated Press
February 6, 2012
— Kyle Stanley rebounded from a devastating loss to win the Phoenix Open, overcoming an eight-stroke deficit Sunday in a comeback as unlikely as his collapse last week at Torrey Pines.

In tears seven days ago in San Diego after blowing a big lead—dropping the final strokes with a triple-bogey 8 on the final hole—and losing a playoff, Stanley took advantage of Spencer Levin’s meltdown Sunday to win his first PGA Tour title.


“I’m not sure what I’m thinking right now,” Stanley said. “I just needed to focus on playing golf. I needed to put last week behind me.”


Stanley closed with a bogey-free 6-under 65, holing a 4-foot par putt on the par-4 18th, to finish at 15-under 269.


He cried again, this time tears of joy.


“I just want to thank my mom and dad. They’ve done a lot for me. I’m speechless,” Stanley said in the scoring area moments after the victory.


Ben Crane had a 66 to finish a stroke back.


Levin, six strokes ahead entering the round and seven in front after one hole, shot a 75 to finish two strokes behind Stanley.


“I just didn’t have it,” Levin said. “Maybe I was looking ahead too much and trying too hard. What are you going to do? I tried my best.”


The 24-year-old Stanley, the long-hitting former Clemson star from Gig Harbor, Wash., birdied the par-5 13th and par-4 14th to take a one-stroke lead at 15 under.


Levin, winless on the PGA Tour, birdied the 14th to regain a share of the lead, but dropped back with a double-bogey 7 on the par-5 15th.


“I really feel for him,” Stanley said. “You don’t want to wish that on anyone. He’s a very good player. ... I feel bad for him.”


Stanley parred the final three holes, playing a great recovery shot from under cactus to the right of the short par-4 17th.


He birdied Nos. 2, 3, 8, 9 and 11 to get to 13 under, and within three strokes of the faltering Levin.


Levin birdied No. 4 to reach 18 under, but bogeyed Nos. 4 and 6 and dropped two more strokes on Nos. 11 and 12 to let Stanley into the mix.


“I don’t really know,” Levin said. “I felt all right early.”


Last week at Torrey Pines, Stanley led by seven shots early in the final round, and still had a four-shot lead as he stood on the tee at the par-5 18th.


But his third shot had too much spin and didn’t get high enough on the green, spinning quickly down the slope and into the water. He three-putted from 45 feet for the triple bogey, then lost to Brandt Snedeker on the second playoff hole when his 5-foot par putt caught the right edge of the cup.


Did this victory erase last week?


“Not really,” Stanley said. “I’m never going to forget that.”


D.J. Trahan had a 66 to finish fourth at 12 under, and Brendan Steele (64) was another stroke back along with Kevin Na (65) and Bubba Watson (70).


Phil Mickelson shot a 73 to tie for 26th at 6 under.


“I felt good,” the former Arizona State star said. “I just couldn’t quite get it going.”



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