Sunday, February 05, 2012

Levin, Leading By Six, Loses Phoenix Open By Two

Sunday could have been the best day in the golfing career of Elk Grove’s Spencer Levin. Instead, it was probably the worst.

#16 at TPC-Scottsdale, site of the Phoenix Open
He went into the fourth and final round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open with a big six-shot lead. But, Sunday when most of the leaders were scoring in red figures at the TPC-Scottsdale, Levin was going the other way. 

He fired a four-over-par 76 and finished at 13-under-par, two strokes behind the winner, Kyle Stanley. Stanley,  who won for the first time ever on the PGA Tour,  was eight strokes back at the beginning of the round and fired a seven-under-par 65.

“I felt all right early, and I don't know, I just didn't have it, I guess,” Levin said in his post-round news conference. “I just maybe tried a little too hard. I don't think I felt real calm, I just I don't know, I just was looking ahead too much and maybe trying a little too hard, I guess.”

Levin’s real downfall came on the par-5 15th. He pushed his tee shot right, it hit the cart path and bounced forward considerably, settling under a pair of cactus bushes.

Braving the prickly-situation, Levin bent down and using his putter knocked the ball towards the fairway. After his caddy pulled the small spikes out of his back and 208 yards from the green, Levin’s five iron shot was short and went into the water in front of the putting surface.

“I pushed it a little bit, but I guess I didn't hit enough club,” Levin said. “I thought the four iron would go over the green and the five iron didn't carry. So I don't know what happened, I just came out of it a little bit, I guess. But when that ball went in the water it was a complete shock to me.”

He two-putted for a double-bogey seven. He parred the next three holes while Stanley didn’t make a mistake the rest of the way. Levin ended up in third place, a stroke behind Ben Crane, and earned $414, 800.

He said the next time he’s got the lead in a tournament, he’s going to have a different mind-set, learning from what happened to him Sunday.

“I need to find a way to have a little more fun because it's a game, it's supposed to be fun,” Levin said. “When I'm playing well, it's fun, I'm joking around, laughing, everything is good. I've got to find a way to get in that mindset next time I'm in this situation for sure.”

Levin has a great opportunity to rebound this week at a course he’s familiar. Last season he finished fourth at the A-T&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and figures to be one of the favorites going into this week’s play. 

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