Waste Management Phoenix Open
It has been a good month for Cobra Golf. They released the brand-new Cobra King F9 Speedback line up, Bryson DeChambeau routed the field in Dubai with his unorthodox style, and now Rickie Fowler has won the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
This win is vindicating for Fowler for many reasons, but winning in Arizona is especially sweet considering his history in the event. Two years ago, he lost a heartbreaking playoff to Hideki Matsuyama.
Holding a four-shot lead heading into the final round, this year was no cakewalk for Rickie either. He has a history of not closing the deal and surrendering final round leads. On Sunday, it looked as if some very unfortunate events that unfolded during the final round would be his downfall once again.
Facing a chip from just off the front of the green with his third shot on the par-4 11th, Ricky aggressively attacked the flag across the green. The ball ran past the flag with speed and rolled out all the way through the green, down the slope, past the bunker and into the penalty area.
Rickie dropped on the slope just outside the penalty area and set up for what would be his fifth shot when the unthinkable happened. Once he had taken relief from the penalty area and the ball was at rest, it is also in play. That’s when it started to roll back down the slope and into the penalty area again.
Since no outside agency caused the ball to roll into the penalty area, Rickie must again take a one stroke penalty to bring his ball back out of the penalty area and into play. The result was about a 20-foot putt made for 7 and triple-bogey on the hole. He followed that up with a bogey on 12 and surrendered his lead to Brendan Grace.
However, down the stretch Rickie composed himself and was able to right the ship enough to retake the lead. As he reached the tee box on 18 he had an opportunity to make up to and including a bogey on the final hole and still win.
The drive on 18 found the gnarled, long grass in the middle of the church pew bunkers. Rickie chunked a wedge forward to just short of the green setting up a chance to get up and down for par. A good chip shot and a short putt later, and that’s exactly what he did. Rickie raised his arms in victory and emphatically pumped his fist in a downward motion. He was the 2019 Waste Management Phoenix Open champion.
This is Rickie’s fifth career PGA Tour victory and first since the Hero World Challenge in December 2017.
These are the clubs Rickie Fowler used to win the Waste Management Phoenix Open (As reported by PGATOUR):
Cobra King Forged MB (4-PW)
KBS Tour C-Taper 125 S+
Scotty Cameron Circle T Newport 2 GSS prototype
Saudi International Powered By SBIA
One of the benefits of working in the sports industry is that for the most part politics does not infiltrate the industry quite as much as it does everyday life. This week however the European tour took some serious heat for hosting an event in Saudi Arabia. While Dustin Johnson battled Haotong Li down the stretch, the golf itself took a backseat to a few more serious storylines.
Many people on social media called out the Tour due to due the incidents surrounding the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the Saudi regime’s spotted record when it comes to human rights. American intelligence agencies are fairly certain the journalist’s death in the Saudi Embassy in Turkey was a result of explicit direction from Mohammad Bin Salman or someone within the Crown Prince’s inner circle.
Justin Rose, who did not make the cut after winning in California the week prior was quoted as saying, “I’m not a politician, I’m a pro golfer. You know, there’s other reasons to go and play it…it’s a good field, there’s going to be a lot of World Ranking points to play for. By all accounts it’s a good golf course, and it will be an experience to experience Saudi Arabia.”
Another motivator for the top players is also the allure of lucrative appearance fees. Win or lose the superstars made money, maybe even more than they would win if they were to win the tournament itself.
Unfortunately, Sergio Garcia found his name in the headlines for the wrong reasons this week. He was seen on video throwing a childish tantrum in which he was seen slashing his club down into the unraked bunker.
Sergio Garcia’s meltdown in a Royal Greens bunker a day prior to his disqualification for vandalism work on five greens. Story by @SkySportsGolf fills in details. Translations welcomed! https://t.co/UoGmPtTOz4 pic.twitter.com/dQMDN7y2PC
— Geoff Shackelford (@GeoffShac) February 4, 2019
The more serious claims against the Spaniard included intentionally dragging his feet on the greens, damaging them by slamming his putter into the surfaces and not replacing ball marks. Tournament officials determined his fate during the third round, he was subsequently disqualified from the event.
Haotong had an opportunity to exercise his demons from a week earlier where his caddie cost him $100,000 by standing behind Li as he lined up his putt on the final hole. Under the new rules of golf, a caddie is no longer allowed to stand directly on a player’s line and help them line up.
In the end, it was Dustin Johnson who ultimately prevailed shooting 19 under, capturing the inaugural Saudi International title. On Sunday, DJ and Haotong battled back and forth, and Johnson managed to find the shots he needed, when he needed them and closed with a birdie on 18.
The win notches Dustin’s sixth career European Tour victory.
Both the PGA Champions Tour and LPGA will return next week as their seasons truly get underway.