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Stanley overhauls fading Levin to win Phoenix Open

(Reuters) - American Kyle Stanley took advantage of a final-round collapse by overnight leader Spencer Levin to win his first PGA Tour title by one shot at the Phoenix Open in Scottsdale, Arizona Sunday.

A week after agonizingly squandering a seven-stroke advantage to lose the Farmers Insurance Open in a playoff, Stanley delivered the best possible reply as he closed with a flawless six-under-par 65 at the TPC Scottsdale.

The big-hitting Stanley birdied three of the last eight holes in dazzling afternoon sunshine to post a 15-under total of 269, finishing one ahead of compatriot Ben Crane (66).

American Levin, who briefly led by seven shots early in Sunday's final round in pursuit of a maiden PGA Tour victory, had to settle for third place at 13-under after closing with a 75.

"This feels great," Stanley told reporters as he struggled to hold back the tears. "I'd just like to thank my Mum and Dad. They've done a lot for me."

Stanley said his family had comforted him at Torrey Pines last week after he had triple-bogeyed the final hole to take that tournament into a playoff which he lost on the second extra hole.

"I don't know what I would have done if I'd been by myself," the 24-year-old added. "I am just fortunate to have such a great team of people around me. It really meant everything."

Asked how it felt to rebound from the agony of Torrey Pines to the ecstasy of victory, Stanley replied: "That's golf. You need to accept the fact that there are going to be ups and downs. You just can't get too high, you can't get too low.

"I am just thankful. I have had so much support from so many people, people I don't even know. It's really helped me kind of put it behind me and move on. It's been great."

Stanley went into Sunday's final round a distant eight shots off the lead and overnight pacesetter Levin briefly found himself seven ahead after his playing partner Webb Simpson bogeyed the opening hole.

However, Crane was fast closing the gap, a birdie at the second, a 33-foot eagle putt at the third and another birdie at the fourth putting him just four off the pace.

SLIPPED BACK

Though Levin birdied the par-five third to regain a five-shot cushion, he slipped back with a bogey at the par-three fourth after finding a greenside bunker off the tee.

The cigarette-puffing American also faltered at the par-four sixth, finding bunkers off the tee and with his approach, for his lead to be cut to three.

Crane then missed a nine-footer to bogey the ninth and Levin, who coolly saved par there with a 10-foot putt, reached the turn four ahead of the chasing pack.

Stanley rolled in an eight-foot birdie putt at the 11th to trim Levin's advantage to three and moments later the tournament leader did well to par the 10th by draining a 12-footer.

However Levin bogeyed the 11th, after ending up in a greenside bunker with his approach, and also the par-three 12th, after finding sand off the tee, for his lead to shrink to one.

Soon after, he was joined at the top by Stanley who birdied the par-five 13th after reaching the green in two and two-putting.

Stanley then snatched the outright lead at 15-under when he rammed home a 12-footer to birdie the par-four 14th.

Levin steadied his nerves with a much-needed birdie at the 14th where he rolled in a 14-footer to regain a share of the lead.

However, he then tumbled back when he double-bogeyed the par-five 15th after ending up under a cactus with his drive and finding water with his third shot.

There was no way back for Levin from there and Stanley tightened his grip on the title with pars on his final four holes.

"I made a really good par save there on 15 and on 16 as well," a smiling Stanley said after clinching the winner's cheque for $1.098 million. "And it was really nice to make that four-footer at the last."

(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editinng by Ian Ransom)

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