Stanley Exults in Victory; Feels for Levin


Kyle Stanley knows exactly how Spencer Levin feels. It was only a week ago that Stanley experienced a golfer's lowest of lows by blowing a seemingly insurmountable, five-stroke lead in the final round of the Farmers Insurance Open and then losing the tournament on the second hole of a playoff.

It was déjà vu all over again in this week's Phoenix Open when Levin began the final round with a six-stroke edge over the field. But the 27-year-old stumbled home with a 4-over 75, opening the door for Stanley to walk into the winner's circle with a 6-under 65.

In overtaking Levin, Stanley went from the pit of despair to the peak of joy. Worth $1.098 million, the victory was Stanley's first on the PGA Tour and earned the 24-year-old from Gig Harbor, Wash., a trip to the Masters in April.

Stanley certainly understands what Levin is enduring. "I really feel for him, experiencing that," he said of Levin. "You don't want to wish that upon anybody. He's a very good player, way too good of a player to not bounce back or recover. I feel bad for him; I really do."

Stanley also grasps more clearly that being in the cauldron of competition on a regular basis increases one's chances of victory. "You can't really teach somebody the experience aspect of it, and I think being in contention last week, I think the more times you get there, the more comfortable you get."

If that's the case, Levin learned some lessons just as Stanley did the Sunday before. "I just maybe tried a little too hard," said the clearly shaken Sacramento native. "I don't think I felt real - I felt calm, I just - I don't know, I just was looking ahead too much and maybe trying a little too hard, I guess.

"I didn't have it, but still, going to 17 and 18, I had long putts, but they both almost went in. You can always say that. But still, I had a chance after doubling 15, but what are you going to do? I tried my best."

After signing his card, Stanley met with reporters and discussed his win, which was perhaps just as unexpected as his loss in San Diego.

MODERATOR: Well, a man that doesn't really need much of an introduction, other than to announce him as the 2012 Waste Management Phoenix Open champion, Kyle Stanley. With this win you collect 500 FedEx Cup points, which moves you to No. 1 on the list. Obviously quite the different scenario from this time last week. Just your opening thoughts if you can even put stuff together.

KYLE STANLEY: Yeah, I'm not sure what I'm thinking right now. It's been a great week. You go from a very low point to a high point. I'm not sure I expected to maybe recover this quickly. You know, I'll take it. (Laughter.)

Q. Now you see how easy it is to win?

KYLE STANLEY: I don't know how to answer that (laughing). I just tried to focus on playing golf. I knew I was playing well coming into this week. I think the biggest challenge was seeing if I could put last week behind me. I think I did.

Q. When you went out today, was there any thought in your mind, well, if Brandt can do what he did last week, maybe I can do the same thing this week? Does it enter your mind at all?

KYLE STANLEY: You know, actually not really. You know, I didn't pay much attention to the leaderboards until maybe four or five holes left. You know, once I made a couple birdies there on the back nine, I figured I was maybe getting close. But I didn't really think about it too much today, but I made the mistake of thinking about it probably all of the final round last week. You know, so this week I just kind of tried to just let it happen, not think about it, and just focus on things that I could control.

Q. At what point did you realize that you were in contention here and had a chance to pull this off?

KYLE STANLEY: I think 17. 17 I saw the scoreboard there when I was on the green.

Q. Does this erase it for you? Does this take away last week?

KYLE STANLEY: Not really. You know, I'm never going to forget that. But I think it makes this one a lot sweeter, just being able to bounce back. You know, I'm kind of at a loss for words right now. I'm very grateful for the support I've gotten. It's unbelievable. Unbelievable turnaround.

Q. What would you say to Spencer?

KYLE STANLEY: You know, I really feel for him, experiencing that. You don't want to wish that upon anybody. He's a very good player, way too good of a player to not bounce back or recover. I feel bad for him; I really do.

Q. This crowd here has been labeled as sometimes being rowdy, sometimes disinterested. They seemed very much to rally around you this week. Did you feel that?

KYLE STANLEY: Yeah, it was great. I kind of fed off that the past few days. This is my first year here, so I didn't really quite know what to expect with the crowds. I knew it was going to be a different change of pace from what we're normally used to. But they were so supportive. I kind of fed off them most of the week.

Q. One of the perks of winning the way you did today is that you probably haven't realized, last week probably, you're probably never going to be asked about that again. It's kind of a moot point.

KYLE STANLEY: Yeah, that'll be nice. That'll be nice. I don't really want to talk about it anyways.

Q. Do you think you're a better golfer for going through that? You'd probably rather have back to back wins, but will the experience be better for you in the end?

KYLE STANLEY: I mean, yeah, absolutely. You can't really teach somebody the experience aspect of it, and I think being in contention last week, I think the more times you get there, the more comfortable you get. My caddie, Brett, did a great job of keeping me in the present there on the back nine. I don't know what I'd do without that guy. We just played golf, stuck to our game plan, and here we are.

Q. You and Brett haven't worked together for very long. Do you think part of the whole process is that you guys are learning to work with each other more, he's learning to manage you under these situations?

KYLE STANLEY: I think maybe a little bit. But he and I get along great. I think we found that out within the first hour of meeting each other. I mean, yeah, I think the more time he's spent around me, I think he kind of learns kind of what makes me tick, and therefore he can react, respond and tell me what I need to hear.

Q. Especially when you're in contention, right?

KYLE STANLEY: Yeah, it's tough. It certainly says a lot about him. Yeah, I mean, it's something that you just kind of have to go through and learn.

Q. I heard you guys the first 72 hours or something, Bobby B told me this, you and Brett spent 72 hours or a few days together and just completely fell in love or bonded. Can you talk about that or where that happened, what that was all about, that romance?

KYLE STANLEY: Yeah, I guess you can call it a romance (laughing). This was probably December. We went out to - we met in San Diego and spent three or four days out at Titleist just practicing, hanging out, just kind of seeing if our personalities gelled, and they did.

Q. Now that you've been in both situations, would you rather play with a lead coming down the stretch or play coming from behind?

KYLE STANLEY: You know, I think playing from behind was quite a bit easier. I think when you have a big lead, it's human nature to want to protect it. I think it's a little easier kind of being on the chasing side. It certainly was today. So yeah, I guess coming from behind. But I think you've got to learn to deal with both.

Q. Does that mean next time you have the lead late in the third round you'll just hit a couple stray shots just to play coming from behind?

KYLE STANLEY: I don't know about that. You know, I think last week I just it's tough because you kind of you get a lead that big and you start trying to protect it instead of continuing to be aggressive and continuing to try to make birdies, and that's what I tried to do today.

Q. Talk about that stretch on the back nine. How did you get the momentum going? You started making putts. You kind of made your move there. How did that get going?

KYLE STANLEY: Yeah, let's see, on 11, I hit a great 9 iron in there, made about an 8 to 10 footer. The par 5, No.13, got a really good break there, not quite sure how that ball ended up where it did. We only hit 9 iron in there and two putted for birdie. The next hole hit I think kind of a chip wedge in there to about 14 feet, 14, 15 feet, just a little bit right to left, hit a great putt. And then the par saves on 15 and 16 and 18 were good.

Q. How big was the putt on 16, as big as any today?

KYLE STANLEY: Yeah, probably the putt on 15 and 16, they were both pretty big. I mean, I think sometimes in a round you're going to have a couple putts to kind of keep the momentum going and keep you in it, and those were definitely two of those.

Q. Could you describe that shot on 17 from under the cactus, what you were trying to accomplish there?

KYLE STANLEY: I'm not really sure. I mean, that came off a lot better than it's not a shot you really ever practice. I had pitching wedge out, Brett gave me the sand wedge, just shut the face and tried to play a little bit of a hook, and it came off perfect.

Q. It's hard to believe just how far you hit the ball until you see it in person, and I'm wondering, do you think of any golf hole as long? It must be a terrific advantage.

KYLE STANLEY: Yeah, yeah, it's obviously an advantage to hit it a long ways, but it's nice when you can shorten holes up and hit mid irons into par 5s and wedges into par 4s.

Q. Without having to think about it?

KYLE STANLEY: Yeah, yeah. But first and foremost, you've got to hit fairways. It's a stat that is probably the least important out there if you're hitting it everywhere. But yeah, when I'm driving it straight, it's certainly an advantage.

Q. Run through the 18th.

KYLE STANLEY: Yeah, hit that drive probably a little harder than I should have, pulled it, but we had a really good number to the front. Brett just told me to hit a 107 yard shot, ball came off perfect, actually had a little bit of spin on it, and you know, probably didn't hit a very good first putt. But it was really nice to see that last one go in.

Q. Any issue with the clown jumping in the water and swimming across the lake while you were waiting on that tee shot?

KYLE STANLEY: You know, it actually probably loosened us up a little bit. I didn't really expect that. I mean, it was - it is what it is, I guess.

MODERATOR: What's coming up for you this week? You're not playing Pebble. Take us down the road a little bit.

KYLE STANLEY: Yeah, we'll stay here tonight and probably fly out sometimes tomorrow, shut the phone off for a few days and just relax, then probably start practicing again on Thursday or Friday.

Q. What's the big celebration tonight look like?

KYLE STANLEY: I have seven of my buddies in town from Seattle. Brett is going to stay here, my buddy from Oklahoma is going to stay here, so I'm not quite sure what's in store. But we're definitely going to enjoy it.

Q. Possibly football and poker?

KYLE STANLEY: I don't play poker, so probably football, yeah, we'll watch the game. It's already started.

Q. Growing up in Gig Harbor, Washington, up in the Northwest, is there anything in your formative years that you learned that helped you today to close the deal?

KYLE STANLEY: I don't know. I don't think so.

MODERATOR: Kyle, congratulations.

KYLE STANLEY: Lastly, thank you very much to Waste Management, to the Thunderbird organization. Thank you.

The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.


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