Scheffler wins WM Phoenix Open, regains World No. 1 ranking from McIlroy while Sungjae finishes as top Asian -

Scheffler wins WM Phoenix Open, regains World No. 1 ranking from McIlroy while Sungjae finishes as top Asian

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Khel Today Bureau 

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz: Scottie Scheffler successfully defended his WM Phoenix Open title Sunday at TPC Scottsdale to regain the No. 1 spot in the world. It was his first win since the 2022 Masters that set him on the road to becoming World No. 1.

Scheffler closed with a 6-under 65 to beat Nick Taylor by two strokes on the Stadium Course. The 26-year-old Texan took the No. 1 ranking from Rory McIlroy with his fifth PGA TOUR victory. Scheffler moved to fifth in the FedExCup standings.

Though there have been 16 starts since his last win, Scheffler has finished no worse than Tied-11 (at American Express) in his last six starts indicating that he is getting back to his best as the Majors come around the corner.

Last year, Scheffler beat Patrick Cantlay in a playoff for his first TOUR title. Scheffler added victories in the Arnold Palmer Invitational, the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play and the Masters Tournament and was the PGA TOUR’s player of the year.

Scheffler made a 22-foot eagle putt on the par-5 13th to move ahead of  Taylor and then took a two-shot lead on the par-3 16th with a 15-footer for par.

Scheffler birdied the par-4 17th with a 5-foot putt and closed with a par to finish at 19-under 265.

Scheffler earned $3.6 million from the $20 million purse in the second of the PGA TOUR’s new elevated events.

Scheffler became the seventh player to successfully defend a title in the tournament, following Ben Hogan (1946-47), Jimmy Demaret (1949-50), Lloyd Mangrum (1952-53), Arnold Palmer (three straight from 1961-63), Johnny Miller (1974-75) and Hideki Matsuyama (2016-17).

Taylor also finished with a 65. The Canadian bogeyed the 16th, missing a 7-footer after Scheffler holed his par putt.

Jon Rahm, who opened the year with consecutive victories in Hawaii and California, was third at 14 under after a 68.


Korean Sungjae is top Asian

Korea’s Sungjae Im posted his third top-10 finish of the season with a tie for sixth place. The 24-year-old Im closed with a 2-under 69 after mixing four birdies against two bogeys for an 11-under 273 total in the US$20 million PGA TOUR showpiece, finishing eight shots back of Scheffler who fired a closing 65 to pip Nick Taylor (65) by two strokes. Jon Rahm carded a 68 to finish solo third and five back of Scheffler.

Im moved up to 27th position in the FedExCup points list with his strong finish and also picked up a cheque of US$652,500 in the designated event, which was offering a prize fund of US$20 million.

Starting the final round four back of Scheffler, the Korean star got off to a flying start with two birdies in the opening three holes. However he could not make further headway as he parred the next nine holes before dropping his first bogey on the 13th after hitting his ball out of bounds. Im bounced back with birdies from 38 feet and 29 feet on the 16th and 17th holes respectively but dropped his second bogey of the day on the last.

He was pleased with his current form which saw him finish tied fourth at the Farmers Insurance Open two weeks ago.

“We had a strong field this week, so I guess a lot of fans must have enjoyed it. I’m really proud of my top 10 as I was competing against many strong competitors. It has boosted my confidence ahead of next week. I hope to show my best game once more, where the set-up and conditions will be different,” said Im.

Si Woo Kim, Hideki Matsuyama and K. H Lee all shot 70s to finish T23, T29 and T42 while Tom Kim closed with a 73 to settle for T50.

Justin Thomas was fourth at 13 under after a 65. Jason Day (68) followed at 12 under, and Jordan Speith (70) was another stroke back with Sam Burns (68), Sungjae Im (69) and Tyrrell Hatton (69)

Rickie Fowler was in the group at 10 under. The 2019 winner had a hole-in-one on the par-3 seventh, using a 6-iron on the 216-yard hole.

McIlroy closed with a 70 to tie for 32nd at 4 under.

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