Monday, February 6

Comeback Kyle

Kyle Stanley cashes in after last week's bad check.
IF YOU CAN’T WIN FROM SIX shots ahead, how about winning from eight shots behind? Kyle Stanley did just that on Sunday at the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale. Stanley’s 65 got him to the house with a 15-under total for a one-shot victory over Ben Crane.

Watching Stanley rebound from his devastating collapse at the Farmers Insurance Open a week ago was a far more satisfying Super Bowl pregame than anything I could have watched on NBC or ESPN.

Yet one man’s redemption was another man’s tragedy. Spencer Levin entered the final round with a comfortable six-stroke lead, on his way to a first PGA Tour win. Sound familiar? After an early birdie, it began to unravel for Levin with bogeys at the 4th and 6th holes, and then two more at 11 and 12. A double bogey at the par-5 15th hole and the psychological damage had been done.

“It’s almost like you’re kind of wanting the holes to run out real quick,” Levin said about holding a big lead.

Stanley could relate after his Torrey Pines nightmare. He choked up when the win was official, thanking his mom and dad (who I mentioned this past week) for all they had done for him. Overcome, he cut it short, saying, “I’m speechless.” I can’t say I know Matt and Michelle (Kyle’s parents) well, but my wife and I did get to hang out with them during our Glendale days in Bellevue, Washington. We both agreed that Michelle may be the sweetest person on the planet.

You can’t help but notice that Kyle Stanley is solid in a lot of ways. As a player, sure. Hopefully, this is the first of many wins. But he’s also a solid person, well grounded, with a strong family and good people around him. That’s what you need more than a good short game, because the PGA Tour (and life) are full of crazy ups and downs.

So does this mean Spencer Levin wins this week at Pebble?


Troy Vayanos said...

I was so impressed with how Stanley bounced back after the previous week. So many a player would have got down on himself and just given up. But Stanley stuck by his game and came back stronger.

This might be a career defining moment for him.

Charles Prokop said...

On Saturday I mentioned to my wife that Sunday's round in Phoenix might be kind of dull, but if anyone knew that a big lead wasn't safe, it's Kyle Stanley.

It was far from dull, and although I feel for Levin I'm really happy for Stanley. Imagine the demons he had to banish from his mind as he stood over that 4 footer on 18 to win. Great job, Kyle.

Golf said...

It shows how vital it is to have mental strength in golf and to be able to not let it ruin you. Agree, could be a pivotal moment in his career.

The Armchair Golfer said...

All: I agree. Kyle went from rock bottom to mountaintop in a week. Amazing. Definitely a career- and character-defining moment.