Former Clemson Tiger Kyle Stanley rallies for first career PGA Tour victory

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A week after wasting a seven-shot lead, Kyle Stanley shot a final-round 65 to earn his first career victory. He also earned a berth into April's Masters Tournament.  ALLAN HENRY/US PRESSWIRE
ALLAN HENRY/US PRESSWIRE
A week after wasting a seven-shot lead, Kyle Stanley shot a final-round 65 to earn his first career victory. He also earned a berth into April's Masters Tournament.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — 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.”

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, 24, said in the scoring area moments after the victory.

Ben Crane had 66 to finish a stroke back.

Levin, six strokes ahead entering the round and seven in front after one hole, shot 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.”

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.

Did this victory erase last week?

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

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.”

D.J. Trahan had 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 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.”

LOCAL INTEREST

CHARLES HOWELL

Augusta native

Score 69-68-71-71

Shots back T33

KEVIN KISNER

Aiken native

Score 69-71-74-69

Shots back T55

BLAKE ADAMS Swainsboro, Ga.

Score 69-70-74-72

Shots back T65


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