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Scottie Scheffler’s three-peat attempt at the WM Phoenix Open, one of professional golf’s most elusive feats, fell three shots shy. Yet for parts of a marathon Sunday – including 11 birdies in a 16-hole stretch – it appeared in his grasp.

Scheffler finished T3 at the WM, three shots outside a playoff (Nick Taylor defeated Charley Hoffman on the second extra hole) in his bid at becoming the first TOUR pro to win the same event three straight times since Steve Stricker (2009-11 John Deere Classic).

The three-peat wasn’t on his mind, he said afterward, but it seemed for most of the day that his subconscious was manifesting the feat. Scheffler was five back of the lead at the third round’s suspension Saturday night. He faced a 12-foot birdie putt on No. 8 as play resumed Sunday; he missed that but promptly made birdie on the next five holes. He bounced back from a bogey at 14 with birdies on 16 and 17, but he made bogey on 18 after putting into the bunker.

Undeterred, Scheffler rattled off birdies on Nos. 2-5 in the final round (after an approximate 10-minute turnaround between rounds) that moved him atop the leaderboard. But his play on the back nine was uneven – he missed putts from inside 6 feet on Nos. 13-15 – with Taylor and Hoffman gaining separation down the stretch.

“I’d say I’m a bit frustrated,” Scheffler said afterward. “I didn’t really finish the way I wanted to, but I gave myself a good chance this week. Played a lot of solid golf, did a lot of good things. Obviously, I’m a little bit frustrated I think with how I finished, but outside of that I gave myself a good chance, just wasn’t able to close.”

Arnold Palmer (1961-63) is the only player to three-peat at the WM Phoenix Open, an event that dates to 1932. Scheffler couldn’t match that mark, but he retains his No. 1 spot on the Official World Golf Ranking and moves to No. 4 in the FedExCup standings. The Texan is safely one of golf’s greatest ball-strikers, as exemplified this week; he ranked No. 2 in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee and No. 1 in Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green at TPC Scottsdale’s Stadium Course. He ranked 58th around the green, though, and 44th in Putting. That held him back from a historic weekend at TPC Scottsdale. It’s a solid showing, but it leaves a sting.

Scheffler wasn’t the only player to depart Arizona with a sense of frustration at an opportunity lost. Runner-up Hoffman hadn’t won on TOUR in nearly eight years; this marked his 202nd TOUR start since his most recent title at the 2016 Valero Texas Open. Hoffman, 47, held a three-stroke lead midway through the back nine but closed with three consecutive pars and was caught by Taylor, who made three birdies in his last four holes.

Hoffman hadn’t finished better than T10 on TOUR since 2021, and he has finished outside the top 125 in each of the last two FedExCups; he is playing this season on a career money exemption. His WM Phoenix Open runner-up earns him a spot in next week’s The Genesis Invitational via the Aon Swing 5, a silver lining – but it’s hard to shake the knowledge that victory was oh-so-close.

“Lasting memory, obviously watching Nick beat me,” Hoffman said. “But I love the juices. I love competing. This builds a little fire in the belly. I definitely want to be back here.”

It’s Hoffman’s second playoff runner-up at the WM Phoenix Open (he fell to Kenny Perry in 2009). Also experiencing another TPC Scottsdale sting was Sahith Theegala, who finished solo fifth at 17-under, four outside the playoff. Theegala shared the 54-hole lead with Taylor, but his final-round 2-under 69 wasn’t enough to keep pace.

Theegala held the 36- and 54-hole lead at the 2022 WM Phoenix Open, but his tee shot at the par-4 17th Sunday found the water, leading to a bogey, and he finished one stroke outside the playoff. This year, he assumed pole position into the final round once again, but he couldn’t cross the finish line.

After a runner-up at the 2023 WM Phoenix Open, Taylor needed just one year to flip a close call into a victory. Scheffler, Hoffman and Theegala will look to follow that lead in 2025.