Sunday, February 25, 2024

Phoenix Open: Nick Taylor beats Charley Hoffman in play-off to win title as players clash with fans

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Nick Taylor rode a late surge to win his fourth PGA Tour title in the second hole of a play-off against Charley Hoffman at the WM Phoenix Open.

The Canadian birdied three of his final four holes on Sunday to force the play-off against America’s Hoffman, who soared to the top of the leaderboard with a fourth-round score of 64.

After each man birdied the first extra hole, Hoffman left his birdie attempt short, leaving the window open for Taylor to sink a putt from 11 feet and clinch the title.

Taylor’s victory was his second dramatic finish in the past eight months. At the RBC Canadian Open last June, Taylor made a 72-foot eagle putt to beat Englishman Tommy Fleetwood.

“It’s been fun to be in those moments,” said Taylor, the runner-up at last year’s Phoenix Open. “I think last year I drew a lot on for the Canadian Open and I’ve drawn on that for plenty of moments, as well.

Image:
Nick Taylor secured his fifth PGA Tour title at the WM Phoenix Open

“For whatever reason it is, the later it gets, I just seem to get a little more locked in and zoned in and kind of relish those moments, and it’s been a lot of fun.”

Taylor and Hoffman finished the final round three shots ahead of world No 1 Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns. Sahith Theegala rounded out the top five at 17 under.

Scheffler was the two-time defending champion of the Phoenix Open. While settling for third, he did get a memorable sendoff after sticking his tee shot at the 16th just one foot from the hole.

Earlier, Zach Johnson and Billy Horschel exchanged angry words with spectators with the former US Ryder Cup captain heard telling them “I’m sick of it” before demanding they “just shut up”.

In a separate incident, Horschel was seen remonstrating with a spectator for calling out while one of his playing partners, qualifier Nicolo Galletti, was about to hit a shot.

“Buddy, when he’s over a shot shut the hell up man,” Horschel shouted.

“He’s trying to hit a damn golf shot here – it’s our f****** job.”

The WM Phoenix Open is easily the best-attended tournament in golf, but the behaviour of some fans has again attracted more attention than the action on the fairways itself.

One man was arrested after jumping over the ropes and diving into a greenside bunker on the par-three 16th, where he proceeded to perform ‘snow angels’ in the sand.

Tournament officials were forced to shut spectator gates earlier than planned after being overwhelmed by the turnout and sales of alcohol were temporarily halted.

Former BMW PGA Championship winner Byeong Hun An took to social media to say the event was “totally out of control on every hole”.

He added: “Played here multiple times over the years and it was fine until today.”

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