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Saturday, March 2, 2024

Nick Taylor caps ‘marathon’ WM Phoenix Open with clutch playoff putting performance

Nick Taylor earned his fourth career PGA Tour victory thanks to clutch putting at the WM Phoenix Open.

If Nick Taylor has a birdie putt in a playoff setting, you can bet on the ball ending in the cup. On Sunday, with darkness setting in (and Super Bowl VII well underway), Taylor birdied five of the last six holes — including two playoff holes — to outlast Charley Hoffman and win the 2024 WM Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale.

Taylor’s fourth PGA Tour win avenged a frustrating second-place finish in Phoenix in 2023 (he lost to Scottie Scheffler, who finished T3 this year).

Taylor was the clubhouse leader after tying the course record with an opening round 60. After a 68 and 70, he carded a bogey-free 65 on Sunday — highlighted by birdies on No. 6, No. 7, No. 9, No. 15, and No. 16. He then splashed a 9.5-footer on No. 18 to tie Hoffman. By tournament rules, the players headed back to the 18th tee.

On the first playoff hole, both players missed the fairway but hit tremendous approaches to land the green in regulation. Taylor converted a 13-footer, only to be barely matched by Hoffman.

On the second try, Hoffman missed a length birdie, opening the door for Taylor, who sank an 11.5-footer to complete an impressive up-and-down from the right side of the fairway.

The 35-year-old leaned on past mistakes — specifically, a missed putt on No. 17 — to triumph this time around.

“I tried to draw on last year,” he said. “I didn’t have it early on. I made some ridiculous par saves. That 18th tee shot’s given me trouble in the past. To hit three pretty good ones and birdie it three times is amazing. I drew on that last putt, honestly, from last year. I had that putt when I finished second. Saw the line. I obviously was seeing the lines great all week, so it’s amazing that went in too.”


Taylor, a +17000 longshot before the event, was +1000 when trailing by three with four holes to play. Of the six winners on Tour in 2024, five of them have had longer than 100/1 odds entering the week. Taylor will take home $1.584 million.

Taylor’s heroics capped a wild iteration of the “Greatest Show on Grass.” On Saturday, play — and alcohol sales, briefly, — were paused due to debaucherous fan behavior. A handful of competitors — including Zach Johnson, Jordan Spieth, and Billy Horschel — took issue with the rowdiness during their rounds.

Of course, Taylor enjoyed a more positive experience.

“The finish was pretty dreamlike and hitting all those putts was a lot of fun,” Taylor said. “The atmosphere was incredible all week.”

Due to various weather-related delays, the majority of the field, including Taylor, were forced to finish their third rounds on Sunday. Taylor revealed he had eight minutes between when he turned in his Round 3 scorecard and his Round 4 tee time.

“It was a long day, and to find my swing a little bit the last nine or 10 holes and make some birdies was incredible,” he said.

At the RBC Canadian Open in June, Taylor drained a 72-foot eagle to defeat Tommy Fleetwood on the fourth playoff hole.

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