Spencer Levin addressed the media and discussed losing a six-shot lead at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- Playing with a six-shot lead is a lot easier said than done. At least according to Spencer Levin.
“You don’t have so many weird thoughts,” Levin said Wednesday, a little more than a week removed from shooting a final-round 75 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. “I didn’t really know how hard it was until I was actually in that situation.”
Levin had so much going on in his head, he didn’t sleep much the night before the final round in Phoenix and woke up in the middle of the night and never got back to sleep -- “I wanted the day to be over at 2 in the morning,” he said.
Once Sunday arrived of course, it wasn’t long before Levin’s chances were over with two bogeys in his first six holes to start the landslide. Which is why Levin would prefer coming from behind over having a lead going into Sunday.
“Don't get me wrong, I'd like a six‑shot lead again,” Levin said. “But I think it's easier from the aspect that you aren't expected to win. It's a little easier on your mind that way for sure.”
The days that have followed have been tough on Levin, who doesn’t have a Facebook, Twitter or even a cell phone but has received plenty of words of encouragement up and down the driving range. Being here hasn’t hurt either.
“I was really bummed out Sunday night, pretty bummed out Monday,” Levin said. “I've been thinking about it a lot.
“But I got here, and then I was like, man, I get to play Pebble Beach. It's not like you're going home and playing the muni in your backyard, so I didn't think about it much playing out here.”
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Spencer Levin hit his drive at the par-5 15th into the jumping cactus in the waste area to the right of the fairway.
He used his belly putter to hit it backwards into the rough so he could play his third shot. His caddy, Mike Hicks, had to pick stickers off the side of his shirt and the back of his pants.
Levin's third shot found the water in the front of the green. He held the club over his head and then crouched down on his knees to compose himself.
The 27-year-old Californian, who had taken a six-stroke lead into the final round, went to the drop area and hit his fifth shot to 9 feet. He missed the putt on the right edge and made double bogey to drop back to 13 under.
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The PGA TOUR's ShotLink guru Alex Turbull came up with some interesting stats on Spencer Levin. Consider these tidbits:
* No one has more rounds in the 60s since the start of the 2010 season than Levin. Yesterday’s 68 was his 111th round in the 60s over this time frame.
* No one has been better with their irons this week than Levin. Through three rounds, he’s missed just 10 greens to lead the field in GIR (81.5 percent). This is a large improvement over his 2012 season average of 67.6 percent (T-109th on TOUR).
* Of the 10 greens he’s missed this week, he’s successfully salvaged par or better eight times (80 percent) to rank tied for third in scrambling. On the greens, Levin currently ranks 11th for putts gained, out performing the field by +4.5 strokes with his putter.
* He's dominated on the par 3s this week at TPC Scottsdale. Through three rounds, Levin has made birdies on six of the 12 par 3s – which also leads the field.
* He's nearly blemish-free this week -- making just two bogeys through 54 holes (fewest over par holes in the field this week). This is impressive considering that the average player has 8.34 bogeys or worse this week through three rounds.
* He's yet to shoot an under par final round in 2012. In his first three starts of the season, Levin has final rounds of 72, 73, 72 ranking T-110th on TOUR for final round stroke average
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Spencer Levin certainly didn't show any chinks in the armor on Saturday during the third round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
Well, there was that one bogey when he hit his tee shot in the water at the 15th hole. But Levin countered with four birdies to offset that lone gaffe and lengthened his lead to six shots entering Sunday's finale.
"I felt like I played solid," Levin said in understatement. "I felt like I was in control of my ball most of the day, and I'm pleased. Coming out there, I've never had a big lead like that starting the day, and I thought I played well. Overall I'm pleased about it."
Levin, who has never held a 54-hole lead on the PGA TOUR, will be looking for his first victory on Sunday. The 27-year-old Californian came close last year, losing on the first playoff hole to Johnson Wagner at the Mayakoba Classic at Riviera Maya-Cancun.
Levin's lead is tied for the third-largest in the history of the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Byron Nelson, who would have turned 100 years old today, led by 12 in 1939 while Johnny Miller was up by seven in 1975. Mark Calcavecchia (2001) and Steve Jones (1999) also lead by six on the way to their wins at TPC Scottsdale.
His nearest challenger is Webb Simpson, who matched Levin's 68 on Saturday, while John Huh and Bubba Watson, who lives in Scottsdale, are seven shots back at 10 under. Watson shot 67 in the third round while Huh, a PGA TOUR rookie riding the momentum of his first top 10 last week at Torrey Pines, had a 68.
Simpson battled his swing on Saturday as he only hit eight fairways and 12 greens in regulation. Even so, he was just four behind when he teed off on the driveable 17th where an errant chip skidded across the green and into the water for his third bogey of the day.
"we're just going to see how things are going I think starting out, see how I'm swinging,' Simpson said. "It's hard to be aggressive when you're not swinging well. If we can go figure something out on the range and I'm feeling good, then we'll be firing at pins and trying to win this thing."
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Harrison Frazar returned to TPC Scottsdale Saturday morning and bogeyed two of his final three holes so Spencer Levin takes a commanding five-stroke advantage into the third round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
As we learned last week, though, no lead is safe – even in the final round
And Levin, who stands at 14 under, will be tested on the weekend as the Californian tries to win his first PGA TOUR event. The challenge will be physical as well as internal as he tries to fend off some of the best players in the world.
That’s because Levin has shown a penchant for going low in the first two rounds this year. Witness that 62 he shot at Torrey Pines North in the first round last week and the 63 he fired on Friday at TPC Scottsdale.
But while his scoring average before the cut of 68.43 ranks 21st on TOUR, it drops off considerably on the weekend. Levin ranks 85th in the third round with an average of 71 and 110th on Sunday at 72.33.
Frazar is Levin’s nearest challenger while TOUR rookie John Huh and Webb Simpson, a two-time winner last year, are tied at 8 under. Kyle Stanley, who was last week’s hard-luck playoff loser, is alone in fifth at 7 under.
Spencer Levin holes a 37-foot bunker shot en route to a second-round 63.
A week removed from opening with a 62 at Torrey Pines, Spencer Levin is at it again, this time shooting an 8-under 63 in Friday’s second round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
At 14 under through the first two rounds, Levin has a commanding lead. Now he’ll try to avoid what happened last week when he followed that opening round with three straight scores in the 70s.
“I try not to think about that,” said Levin, who hit 15 greens in regulation and took just 25 putts in the second round.
Levin actually finished his first round early Friday morning, birdieing his first of three holes before capping off a 65. He took that momentum right back to the course with birdies on each of his first two holes in the second round.
“Everything was pretty good today,” Levin said. “My putting and chipping feels real solid.
“Sometimes when you finish around … I felt pretty good going into my second round and it didn’t feel like a second round.”
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
LA JOLLA, Calif. -- Four weeks into the 2012 PGA TOUR season, there are still definite signs of rust.
Just ask Phil Mickelson, who fired a disappointing 77 on the South Course Thursday that left him in very real danger of missing the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open for just the fifth time in his career. But even among the leaders, there's some tinkering being done.
Bill Haas, for example, is fiddling with his putter. At the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, he used the same belly putter that helped him win a playoff at last year's TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola -- and with that title, the FedExCup.
The magic appeared to be gone, though, as Haas ranked dead last among the field with 136 putts, including 36 on the final day. Small wonder, then, that Haas opted to banish the belly and return to a traditional length putter last week at the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation.
Unfortunately for Haas, the results weren't much better. He was tied for 74th -- and 75 players made the cut -- with a total of 121 putts per round and he never had fewer than 30 on any day in the desert.
So Haas decided to trim an inch from the shaft of his belly putter this week. Voila -- he used just 27 as he made 11 birdies and shot a 63 on the North Course that left him one shot off the lead at the Farmers Insurance Open.
"Great start mainly with the putter, and today it felt really good, which is surprising because these greens probably the toughest to putt on so far that we've played," Haas said.
The three-time PGA TOUR champ, who took a share of the lead into the final round at Torrey Pines last year, doesn't know if the alteration is the answer. "But sometimes just being a little different it's a little more comfortable," he said.
Besides, there was a practical reason for shortening the putter. Haas felt like he couldn't get his eyes over the ball. The inch he excised made a big difference on Thursday.
"The longer it is, the harder it is," Haas said. "The putter has to go further away from your feet. So it allows me to get over the ball a little better and maybe see the line. That's my theory."
Kyle Stanley, who is tied for the lead with Spencer Levin after both shot 62s, was looking for answers after missing the cut last week. He only hit 27 of 41 fairways and 38 of 54 greens. Two rounds of even par in what is normally a birdie fest simply did him in.
A 20-minute drive up the coast to the Titleist Performance Institute on Monday proved to be time well-spent, though. Not to mention, Stanley played the North Course in Wednesday's pro-am, and he could see there were birdies to be had.
"I didn't play very well last week, but I spent Monday up at Titleist and figured a few things out and started hitting it really well," Stanley said. "... I think it was just my alignment. I was setting up way out, so it was causing me to go really in to out on the downswing, so just squared things up a little bit."
Levin is playing with a new driver but it wasn't put in the bag out of frustration. He cracked his tried-and-true model prior to the final round of the Sony Open in Hawaii where he tied for 23rd. Levin rarely carries a back-up so he ended up using his dad's driver and shot 72.
"Last week I was fooling around with a few, and I found what I like now, and it's pretty good," Levin said. "But it was scary because I hadn't switched in two years and I hardly every switch clubs, so that was kind of a curveball."
Levin ended up hitting 12 of 14 fairways on Thursday so the new driver must be working well.
"I kind of tinker with the weights a little bit on the R11," he said. "But I got it to where my swing was today, so hopefully, I can do that again. I like it a lot. I was hitting it really straight today.”
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
LA JOLLA, Calif. -- Spencer Levin has heard players talk about being in "the zone."
He's just not sure he's ever been in one, although the way he played in shooting 29 on the back nine of the North Course on Thursday probably came awfully close. Levin finished with a 62 that set a career low in relation to par and put him in a tie for the lead with Kyle Stanley after the first round of the Farmers Insurance Open.
"I never even know what that means, and I guess when guys do it, they don't even know they're doing it," Levin said. "Maybe that's why I shot that because I just kept trying to hit every shot as good as I could, and I just had a good rhythm going.
“My mind was pretty clear, and it just worked out good. I played really well on that back nine."
Indeed. Levin made a 15-footer at the 10th hole and almost holed a 5-iron at No. 11 to set up his second of the seven birdies on the homeward stretch. His next five birdie putts were all inside 10 feet -- and he actually had two unsuccessful eagle attempts from inside 12 feet that might have created a 59 watch.
"I had good looks and was putting well so it kind of added up," Levin said.
Levin and Stanley are one stroke ahead of Bill Haas, who shot a 63 on the North Course that included a double bogey on the par-3 sixth, his 15th of the day. The group at 8 under included Rod Pampling, Josh Teater, Vijay Singh and rookie John Huh.
Stanley's 62 was also a career-low and it included an eagle on the 18th hole. Stanley estimated his drive on that hole covered 380 yards and he coaxed an 8-iron from 173 yards to 3 feet for the tie with Levin.
"The course is in good shape, the fairways are nice, the greens are soft, but you can just be pretty aggressive with your irons," Stanley said. "You've got to hit solid putts. If you don't hit solid putts, it will bump up on you."
The top 12 players on the leaderboard all played the North Course, which is generally regarded as the easier of the two. In fact, Mark Turnesa, who shot 66, and Marco Dawson and Brandt Snedeker, who shot 67s, were the only players in the top 25 who played the South.
The field will switch courses on Friday and everyone who survives the cut will play the final two rounds on the South. The scoring average on the South was 72.846 while the North’s was 69.244.
Phil Mickelson, the hometown favorite and three-time champ at Torrey Pines, was one of the South’s casualties. He shot a 77 that was his second-highest score ever on the course that hosted the 2008 U.S. Open and left him in a tie for 147th
"The North Course, if you start on it, you've got to get off to a good start," said Rickie Fowler, who shot 68 on that layout. "You play it Friday and you feel like you can make up ground. So it is a place where you can make birdies. But the South, obviously, we play three rounds. so you have to hang in there."