Waste Management Phoenix Open: Scottie Scheffler secures first win after playoff drama

The popular American finally landed his first trophy after beating countryman Patrick Cantlay at the third extra hole.

Scottie Scheffler is a PGA Tour winner at last!

On a day when it looked as if he'd have to settle for the minor places yet again, Scheffler was last man standing in the desert as he nailed a 25-foot birdie putt to win a playoff against Patrick Cantlay at the Waste Management Phoenix Open in Arizona.

It was far from a simple road to arrive there after a dramatic denouement at TPC Scottsdale.

Scheffler was way off the pace at halfway but hit all 18 greens in a brilliant Saturday 62 to put himself in the thick of contention.

It all rather seemed in vain when the Texan swallowed bogeys at 5, 7, 8 and 12 in Sunday's closer to wipe out gains at 2, 3, 6 and 10.

But the door opened for Scheffler when his rivals couldn't make a decisive move.

World No.318, Sahith Theegala, looked set to pull off a great underdog story when he birdied 12 and 15 to get to 16-under but his drive at the par-4 17th kicked left into water and he finished one back after finishing bogey-par.

Xander Schauffele's eagle try from 41 feet finished two inches short of the cup at 17 and then he too had to settle for 15-under after failing to convert from eight feet at 18.

The duo finished in a tie for third with defending champion Brooks Koepka, who birdied three of his final four holes.

Cantlay got to 16-under with a gain at 15 but couldn't add another at 17 and trickled his birdie putt from just over nine feet wide of the hole at the last.

Scheffler began his charge with a birdie at 13 and picked up further shots at 14 and 15.

He holed from four feet at 17 for birdie and then hit a sumptuous approach at 18.

Facing a putt from five feet, five inches to secure his first win, the Ryder Cup star hit a nervous, jabby putt that never threatened the hole.

That meant Scheffler and Cantlay, who had both carded final-round 67s to finish at 16-under, went into a playoff.

They played the 18th three more times before a winner was found but that man was Scheffler after his 25-foot putt dropped into the cup for birdie. Cantlay couldn't respond.

"Right now, I'm pretty tired. It was a long day. It was a grind. I'm just very pleased with how things played out today," said a relieved Scheffler.

"So the putt in regulation, I didn't hit a bad putt. It didn't feel great coming off the face, but I think I just hit it through the break. I think there was a little bit of excitement, whatever it was.

"If you would have told me on 13 tee I was going to be in a playoff, I would have been pleased. I felt a little bit out of it at that point, so to finish with four birdies coming in to get in a playoff was pretty nice.

"It's great. Definitely nice to get my first win under the belt, and I think the first one is probably always the hardest.

"I definitely made it pretty difficult on myself today, and going into the playoff and having to beat a player like Patrick is pretty tough. Just very pleased that I was able to do it."

Scheffler continues trend of first-time winners

For the third week in a row, a PGA Tour event has been won by a player looking for their first win.

Luke List started the trend when his long wait ended with victory at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Tom Hoge shed his maiden tag when coming through to win the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

And now Scheffler finally has his first trophy.

Did the wins for List and Hoge have something to do with Scheffler finally getting it done? Maybe. Golf is a game played to a large extent in the head and winning can come down to the narrowest of marginal gains.

Gaining inspiration from recent winners can be a factor - "if he can do it, so can I" - and those who haven't lifted a trophy before will surely now think it's their turn after watching the last three weeks pan out on the PGA Tour.

Scheffler added to a couple of other trends this week.

Eight of the last nine winners in Phoenix had managed a top 12 in the event previously. Make that nine in the last 10 as Scheffler was tied seventh last year.

Scheffler also becomes the seventh winner in the last nine years to start the final round between one and four shots back. He went into Sunday two in arrears.

Fate of the big guns

Jon Rahm was the big favourite in more ways than one this week.

He was the clear market leader with the bookies and also hugely popular with the crowds having gone to nearby Arizona State University.

But he just couldn't get in a blow at the leaders, eventually finishing tied 10th.

Fifth here as an amateur on debut in 2015, his finishes as a pro at TPC Scottsdale now read: 16-11-10-9-13-10. Remarkable consistency but not the placings he wants.

Justin Thomas made a late move (Sunday 66) to jump 12 spots and finish tied eighth but, like Rahm, he never looked like winning.

JT also has impressive form over the last five years here: 17-3-3-13-8.

Viktor Hovland was getting his first look at the course but it didn't go well as he fired a pair of 72s to miss the cut.

Aces in the pack

The huge crowds in the stands surrounding 16 are the most raucous in golf as it is.

But they were sent into mass hysteria not once but twice this week after witnessing two hole-in-ones on the short par 3.

Sam Ryder drained his tee-shot in round three and Carlos Ortiz repeated the feat in round four.

Remarkably, Ortiz then made a two on the par-4 17th to become the first player to make back-to-back eagles on non-par 5s since 1990.

READ MORE: Ras al Khaimah Classic: Ryan Fox keeps field at bay to score second DP World Tour win

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