Numbers to Know: Waste Management Phoenix Open

Numbers to Know: Waste Management Phoenix Open

Webb Simpson wins in playoff at Waste Management

Webb Simpson re-entered the winner’s circle at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. It is his sixth PGA TOUR title and first in nearly two years. He’s had several close calls since June, becoming one of the game’s most consistent players in that time. Simpson moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup and seventh in the world ranking with his win. Let’s take a closer look at Simpson’s play at TPC Scottsdale and his success over the past few months.

1. UNSTOPPABLE SIMPSON: Simpson has five kids at home, so he has to be efficient with his travel. He’s made the most of his trips this season. His worst finish in four starts is seventh. Sunday’s win was his third consecutive top-three finish. In his last three starts, only two players have beaten him over the course of 72 holes. That was at the Sony Open in Hawaii, where he finished one shot out of the playoff between Cameron Smith and Brendan Steele. Simpson lost a playoff to Tyler Duncan at The RSM Classic and won Sunday’s playoff with Tony Finau at TPC Scottsdale.

Event Finish Note
RSM Classic 2nd Lost playoff
Sony Open 3rd One shot out of playoff
Waste Management 1st Won playoff

2. ON THE PODIUM: Simpson has been knocking on the door since last June, when he finished runner-up to Rory McIlroy at the RBC Canadian Open. They shared the lead at the start of the final round but McIlroy blitzed the field with a Sunday 61. Simpson shot a final-round 64 to finish runner-up to Brooks Koepka at the World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, then finished second to J.T. Poston at the Wyndham Championship, where Poston became the first player since Lee Trevino to win while going bogey-free over 72 holes. The Waste Management Phoenix Open was Simpson’s sixth top-three finish on the PGA TOUR since June 1, more than anyone else in that span.

3. COMEBACK TRAIL: Simpson was 10 shots off the lead, and outside the cut line, after shooting 71 in the first round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open. He responded with rounds of 63 and 64 to get into Sunday’s final group. Simpson has a knack for going low. Since the start of last season, no one has shot 65 or lower at a higher rate, and it’s not even close.

4. SMALL BALL: This victory vaulted Simpson into the top 10 of the world ranking. Simpson is an outlier among that group because of his lack of length. Only one other player in the top 10 of the world ranking averaged less than 300 yards off the tee last season: Tiger Woods. Woods was still eight yards longer than Simpson. Here’s a look at how Simpson’s driving distance stats stack up against the average of the other nine players in the top 10 of the world ranking:

Simpon’s ball-striking is elite. He doesn’t gain many strokes off the tee because of his lack of length, but he ranks in the top 10 of several key ball-striking stats this season.

Simpson isn’t just a beneficiary of a small sample size, either. He ranked 114th in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee last season while ranking 14th in Strokes Gained: Approach and 11th in Strokes Gained Putting.

In Phoenix, Simpson ranked in the top 10 of fairways hit (third), Strokes Gained: Approach (fourth) and greens hit (sixth). Simpson’s stats were helped by his ace on the 12th hole in the third round. Simpson became the 20th player since 1983 to make a hole-in-one in his victory. Only one player has done it multiple times: Jim Furyk (2007 RBC Canadian Open, 2002 Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide).

5. IN THE CLUTCH: There was a little poetic justice to Simpson’s clutch finish in Scottsdale. He birdied the final two holes to force a playoff with Tony Finau. Simpson started his frenetic finish with a two-putt after driving the 17th green, then holed a 17-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole. He won with a birdie on the first extra hole.

At this season’s RSM Classic, Tyler Duncan birdied the final two holes to force a playoff with Simpson. Duncan holed a 25-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole, then beat Simpson with a birdie on the second hole of sudden death. Duncan was the ninth player in the ShotLink era (since 2003) to make birdie or better on his last two holes and then win in a playoff.

Now Simpson is the 10th player to achieve that feat.