Scottie Scheffler successfully defended his WM Phoenix Open title to regain top spot in the world rankings at the expense of Rory McIlroy.
Scheffler carded a closing 65 at TPC Scottsdale to finish on 19 under par and two shots ahead of Canada’s Nick Taylor, who also shot a brilliant 65 playing alongside Scheffler and world number three Jon Rahm.
Scheffler’s win meant McIlroy needed to finish third or better to remain top of the rankings, but the Northern Irishman had to settle for a tie for 32nd following a final round of 70.
McIlroy had not finished worse than eighth in his previous eight starts, a sequence which included three wins.
Scheffler started the day with a two-shot lead and immediately saw that halved as playing partners Taylor and Rahm birdied the first, but the Masters champion responded with birdies on the second and third.
Taylor and Rahm both birdied the sixth to close the gap again and although Rahm bogeyed the eighth, Taylor’s birdies on the ninth and 10th gave the world number 223 a share of the lead.
Scheffler reclaimed top spot in style with an eagle on the par-five 13th, although Taylor’s birdie kept him firmly in touch and both men then missed the green on the short 16th in front of the baying grandstands.
Taylor was left with the easier shot but it was Scheffler who saved par by holing from 15 feet and Taylor missed from half the distance before seeing his birdie putt on the 17th cruelly catch the edge of the hole and spin out.
Scheffler had no such problems from short range and safely parred the last to seal victory after Taylor had deservedly made birdie.
“I’m just proud how I fought today,” Scheffler told CBS. “I didn’t have my best stuff, I grinded it out. I wasn’t hitting it good off the tee, my irons didn’t feel as sharp but I played a great round of golf.”
Asked about the crucial par save on the 16th, Scheffler added: “It was a big putt. That almost looked like it was going to be short for a while but that putt was really fast and just kept going. It was definitely a lot of fun to see that one go in.”
Rahm finished three shots behind Taylor in outright third place after a final round of 68.