Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 2/5/12
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- A week ago, Kyle Stanley couldn't have been much lower. The 24-year-old fought back tears after an astonishing meltdown on the 18th hole of the Farmers Insurance Open that ultimately cost him the tournament he'd led by six shots earlier in the day. On Sunday he fought back tears of joy following a historic rally from eight strokes back to capture the 2012 Waste Management Phoenix Open while Spencer Levin felt a bit of the disappointment Stanley did a week earlier. "This feels great," Stanley said, getting choked up just after Levin missed his last chance to force a playoff. "I'm speechless." Stanley 's story of redemption couldn't have been more perfect, nor could it have come any quicker. After a week of support and sympathy, the 24-year-old was the object of envy following the biggest comeback in Phoenix Open history and his first PGA Tour win. "I'm not sure what I'm thinking right now," Stanley said. "You go from a very low point to a high point. I'm not sure I expected to maybe recover this quickly, but I'll take it." Starting the day at 9-under, trailing Levin's 17-under lead, Stanley wasted no time in making up ground with birdies on two of his first three holes. He sank four more birdies the rest of the day, keeping his scorecard clear of bogeys, to finish at 15-under par with a final score of 269. Stanley said he drew on his mental state from last week's tournament to keep his focus on the present. Rather than thinking about winning it all, as he had at Torrey Pines, Stanley focused on each hole, not realizing he'd taken the lead on the 14th hole until three holes later. That focus showed on what was perhaps Stanley's toughest hole of the day. With his lead at two strokes, Stanley missed the 17th fairway with a 293-yard drive, putting his ball right next to a large rock and under a tall cactus. Unshaken, Stanley quickly recovered with a curved chip shot onto the green and a two-putt for par. "That's not a shot you really ever practice," Stanley said. "It came off perfect." Hitting well from under a cactus and inches from a rock might seem like quite the challenge, but after what Stanley endured last week it had to seem like little more than a speed bump. "The biggest challenge was seeing if I could put last week behind me," Stanley said. "I think I did that." That challenge is now Levin's after his worst round of the tournament negated three stellar rounds that gave him a comfortable lead entering Sunday. Exhausted from a mentally draining day, Levin explained making the same mental mistake Stanley credited with his collapse in san Diego. "I just think I wasn't quite in the present on a lot of shots," Levin said. "But I gave it away, simple as that. You have a six-shot lead and lose, you gave it away." Near misses on the putting greens and hazards haunted Levin all day, as he posted 4-over 75 to finish in third place at 13-under and miss out on his first PGA Tour win. Having entered the day with a six-stroke lead over Webb Simpson, Levin matched the largest lead lost with one round to play in PGA Tour history. The scenario was eerily similar to Stanley's collapse a week earlier, as he'd entered Sunday with a five-stroke lead and no PGA Tour wins. Though Levin didn't experience the kind of final-moment collapse Stanley did when he triple-bogeyed the 18th last week, Stanley could relate to Levin's round Sunday. "I really feel for him, experiencing that," Stanley said. "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." If anything, Stanley provides a model for Levin to follow in next week's Pebble Beach Pro-Am. "I guess it shows that you can recover from it," Levin said. "I think I will. I feel like I am getting better, like I keep saying. It was a weird feeling today. I've never had a lead like that." This week marked the first time Levin led a tournament after 36 holes and 54 holes. This season, he's started tournaments strong but failed to finish well. In four 2012 starts, Levin has failed to card an under par final round. While Levin will try to develop his ability to close strong and rebound, Stanley will savor his swift redemption but won't soon forget what he went through. "I'm never going to forget (the Farmers Insurance Open)," Stanley said. "But I think it makes this one a lot sweeter, just being able to bounce back. I'm very grateful for the support I've gotten. It's unbelievable. Unbelievable turnaround."
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