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Waste Management Phoenix Open

Tournament Preview

The biggest "get" for the 2014 Waste Management Phoenix Open - defending champion Phil Mickelson - has withdrawn from the event because of a back injury suffered last week in Dubai.

However, the tournament still boasts 20 of the top 50 players in the world, including three men ranked in the Top 20: #12 Ian Poulter, #14 Brandt Snedeker and #19 Webb Simpson.

Also in the field are seven former Phoenix Open champions: Kyle Stanley (2012), Mark Wilson (2011), Hunter Mahan (2010), J.B. Holmes (2006, 2008), Keegan Bradley (2007), Vijay Sing (1995, 2003) and Mark Calcavecchia (1989, 1992, 2001).

The last player to join the crowded field was Webb Simpson, the 2012 US Open champion.

Played at the TPC Scottsdale, the field includes 132 players and a winning share of $1.116 million along with 500 FedExCup points.

The tournament started in its current incarnation in 1939, a year it was won by a 27-year-old Byron Nelson, with Ben Hogan second.

With the largest gallery in the world, the tournament owns the PGA tour records for both a single day (179,022 in 2013) and overall attendance (538,356 in 2008).

01/30/14, Thursday

The Waste Management Phoenix Open got the best of both worlds on Thursday: Phil Mickelson on the course and a very competitive field.

Mickelson, an early scratch for the tournament, saw a back specialist over the weekend and given the go-ahead to enter the fray and attempt to defend his 2012 title.

Mickelson was rusty throughout the round, hitting two birdies in the first four holes, then struggling through a seven-hole span that included three bogeys and a double.

He caught fire down the stretch with three birdies between 13 and 17 to close at an even-par 71, 7 strokes behind co-leaders Bubba Watson and Y.E. Yang.

Yang was close to perfect in his opening round, notching eight birdies against a single bogey, while Watson did likewise. The pair have a one-stroke lead over seven different players at 6-under including Kevin Stadler and Chris Kirk.

Hunter Mahan and another seven players all finished at 5-under, two strokes off the lead.

01/31/14, Friday

American Bubba Watson and Australian Matt Jones are co-leaders of the Waste Management Phoenix Open after two rounds, tied at 12-under through 36 holes.

Jones shot his second straight 65 on Friday while Watson notched a 66.

Jones was nearly perfect, firing seven birdies and a lone bogey. He hit three straight birdies on 13-15 and added another on No. 18 to finish the day.

Watson ran into trouble just before the turn, sandwiching a birdie on No. 8 with bogeys on 7 and 9. He bounced back with birdies on 10, 13 and 15 in the back nine.

Two other players are in double digits below par: Australia's Greg Chalmers and the US' harris English both shot 4-under 67s to reach 10-under for the round.

Ten other players are withing five strokes of the lead, including American Brandt Snedeker, who fired the day's best round, a 7-under 64. Snedeker hit seven birdies and 11 pars to get to 8-under and forge a four-way tie for eighth.

Day One co-leader Y.E. Yang took a nose dive, following up his Day One 64 with a 2-over 73. Yang was at even par after six holes thanks to two birdies and two bogeys, but hit a double on No. 9 and another bogey on No. 13.

Chris Kirk, who was a stroke back with an opening round 65, also struggled to a 73, tying him for 27th at 4-under.

One of the 10 players Kirk is tied with at 4-under is 2013 Phoenix Open champion Phil Mickelson, who bounced back from an even-par 71 to fire a 4-under 67.

Mickelson looked much more like his old self, playing a bogey-free round and hitting four birdies.

Seventy-seven players made the cut at 1-under.

02/01/14, Saturday

Bubba Watson has been at or near the top of the leaderboard of the Waste Management Phoenix Open for all three days. He just hopes to make it four on Sunday.

Waston fired a 3-under 68 to drop to 15-under for the tournament, taking a two-stroke lead on Kevin Stadler entering the final round on Sunday.

Nine other players are within five strokes of Watson, which should make for an
interesting Sunday while most sports fans are gearing up for the Super Bowl.

Watson looked primed to blow the lead wide open when he birdied three of his first eight holes, but he managed just one birdie the rest of the way to keep the door open.

Stadler looked out of it early in the day, but rattled off five birdies in the final six holes to finish with a 4-under 67, putting hin at 13-under for the tournament.

Ryan Moore and Harris English are tied for third at 12-under. Moore had the best score of the third round with a 7-under 64.

Also at 12-under is the lowest-scoring international player in the field, Japan's Hideki Matsuyama.

Top tier American Hunter Mahan crept up to a tie for sixth with his 6-under 65, but no one was hotter than fellow American Brendan Steele, who was scintilating with his 9-under 62 to get to 11-under. Steele nailed six birdies in seven holes at one point.

Defending champ and fan favorite Phil Mickelson fell well off the pace, finishing with a 1-over 72 to rise to 3-under for the tournament.

"Lefty" was in good shape through 15 at 2-under, but he double bogeyed No. 16 and bogeyed 18 to fall back.

02/02/14, Sunday

Considering his dad was nicknamed "The Walrus", Kevin Stadler probably has no problem being compared to a tortoise.

On Sunday at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, he played the part in the legendary fable - showing that slow and steady can win the race.

Stadler won his first PGA tournament in 239 tries, edging Bubba Watson, who had led for the previous two days. It looked like a playoff was imminent, but Watson missed a five-foot par putt on No. 18.

Stadler finished 3-under for the round and 16-under for the tournament. Watson shot a 71 and Graham DeLaet, who shot a 65, tied for second at 15-under.

The victory gets Stadler a bid to the Masters. He and his father will be the first men to play in the same Masters as father and son. Craig Stadler won the event in 1982.

They are the ninth father-son combination to each win a tournament title.

The TPC Scottsdale is Stadler's home course. He candidly admitted that he was concerned on how long a potential playoff might last given his affinity for the Denver Broncos - whose colors he wore on Sunday - and who played in the Super Bowl Sunday evening.

Watson has not won a tournament since his breakout win at the 2012 Masters. Hunter Mahan and Hideki Matsuyama tied for fourth, each finishing 14-under.

Stadler came out firing on all cylinders, hitting three birdies on his first three holes and passing Watson for the first time with a birdie on No. 9.

He dropped back behind Watson with a double bogey on No. 11, then tied him back with a birdie on No. 17.

The strong field saw 11 players finish at least 10-under par. Ryan Moore, Charles Howell III and Brendan Steele finished tied for sixth - Steele still claimed the lowest round of the tournament with his Day 3 62.

Phil Mickelson, the tournament's defending champion, shot a 71 and finished 3-under par for the tournament, tied for 42nd.

It was Mickelson's 25th time to play the Phoenix Open.

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