Simpson rallies to beat Finau in Phoenix Open playoff

Simpson rallies to beat Finau in Phoenix Open playoff
Webb Simpson hits from the second fairway during the final round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open PGA Tour golf event Sunday, Feb. 2, 2020, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Webb Simpson birdied the final two holes of regulation to force a playoff with Tony Finau, then won the Waste Management Phoenix Open with a 10-foot birdie putt on the first extra hole Sunday.

Finau, two strokes ahead with two holes left, missed an 18-foot birdie try in the playoff on the par-4 18th after driving left into the church pew bunkers.

Simpson two-putted for birdie from the fringe on the short par-4 17th and made a 17-footer for birdie from the edge of the green on the 18th. Finau, after hitting a 366-yard drive and an approach to 8 feet, missed a chance to win when his birdie try slid right.

Simpson closed with a 2-under 69 to match Finau at 17-under 267 at TPC Scottsdale. Finau shot 70.

The 34-year-old Simpson won his sixth PGA Tour title and first since the 2018 Players Championship. The 2012 U.S. Open champion improved to 2-6 in playoffs, three years after falling to Hideki Matsuyama in extra holes at TPC Scottsdale. Simpson also lost to Tyler Duncan on the second extra hole in November in the RSM Classic.

Finau missed a chance for his second PGA Tour victory. The 30-year-old Ryder and Presidents Cup player won the 2016 Puerto Rico Open, played opposite a World Golf Championships event.

A stroke ahead of Simpson after a third-round 62, Finau parred the first seven holes, limiting his birdie chances with sluggish iron and wedge play. He bogeyed the par-4 eighth to end a 57-hole bogey-free streak, leaving an 8-iron from the fairway 65 feet short.

Finau made a big par save on the par-4 10th, holing a 25-footer to only lose one stroke after Simpson ran in a 5-footer for birdie and the lead.

Finau pulled even with an 18-foot birdie putt on the par-3 12th, a day after Simpson aced the hole in a 64. Finau made a 9-foot birdie putt on the par-5 13th to increase the lead to two and made the advantage three with a par on the par-5 15th after Simpson drove into the water.

They each parred the the par-3 stadium 16th, with Finau wearing a Kobe Bryant jersey on the rowdy hole. The PGA Tour cut the pin position in a tribute to Bryant, using his two Lakers uniform numbers. The pin was placed 24 yards from the front edge and 8 yards from the left edge, putting it in the back left corner. The flag had an 8 one side and a 24 on the other, and the numbers also were painted into the grass in front of the green.

Fourth-ranked Justin Thomas tied for third at 14-under after a 65, birdieing the 16th in a jersey from Bryant’s days at Lower Merion High School. Bubba Watson and Nate Lashley also finished at 14 under. Watson closed with a 66, and Lashley shot 68.

DIVOTS: Jon Rahm tied for ninth at 11 under after a 70. The former Arizona State player needed a victory to jump from No. 3 to No. 1 in the world. … Denny McCarthy holed a 38-footer on 16 to become the first player to birdie the hole in all four rounds since Luke Donald in 2003. McCarthy shot a 71 to tie for 59th at even par. … Rickie Fowler, the winner last year, closed with a 69 to tie for 37th at 7 under.

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