A remarkable turnaround for this PGA golfer

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A remarkable turnaround for this PGA golfer

From Comcast SportsNet
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- For the second straight week, a PGA Tour event ended with Kyle Stanley in tears. This time, they were tears of joy. Taking advantage of Spencer Levin's final-round meltdown, Stanley rebounded from a devastating loss at Torrey Pines to win the Phoenix Open on Sunday, overcoming an eight-stroke deficit in a comeback as unlikely as his collapse a week ago. "You go from a very low point to a high point," Stanley said. "I'm not sure I expected to maybe recover this quickly. ... I think the biggest challenge was seeing if I could put last week behind me. I think I did." Stanley closed with a bogey-free 6-under 65, holing a 4-foot par putt on the par-4 18th to finish at 15-under 269 -- a stroke ahead of playing partner Ben Crane and two ahead of Levin. Levin, six strokes ahead entering the round and seven in front after one hole, shot a 75. "It just wasn't my day, obviously," Levin said. "But I gave it away, simple as that. You have a six-shot lead and lose, you gave it away. My hat's off to Kyle. He played a great round. He went and got it. But if you've got a six-shot lead and don't win, then I think it's on the player with the lead, for sure." When asked about Levin, Stanley echoed what Torrey Pines winner Brandt Snedeker said about Stanley a week ago. "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." At Torrey Pines, Stanley led by seven shots early in the final round, and still had a four-shot lead as he stood on the tee at the par-5 18th. But his third shot had too much spin and didn't get high enough on the green, spinning down the slope and into the water. He three-putted from 45 feet, then lost to Snedeker on the second playoff hole when his 5-foot par putt caught the right edge of the cup. "I'm never going to forget that," Stanley said. "But I think it makes this one a lot sweeter, just being able to bounce back. I'm kind of at a loss for words. I'm very grateful for the support I've gotten. It's unbelievable. Unbelievable turnaround." The 24-year-old former Clemson player from Gig Harbor, Wash., earned 1,098,000 for his first PGA Tour title. One of the tour's longest hitters at only 5-foot-11 and 165 pounds, Stanley birdied the par-5 13th and par-4 14th to take a one-stroke lead at 15 under. On No. 13, he powered a 376-yard drive through the desert area to set up the tying two-putt birdie. "Got a really good break there. Not quite sure how that ball ended up where it did," Stanley said. "We only hit 9-iron in there." On 14, he hit a 325-yard drive down the middle and holed a 12-footer to take lead. "Kind of a chip wedge in there," he said. Levin, winless on the PGA Tour, birdied the 14th to regain a share of the lead, but followed with a double-bogey 7 on the par-5 15th. "I wasn't doing trying to do anything different," Levin said "It had to be my mind. You get weird thoughts creeping in here and there. At least, I do. I think it was more my mind than my swing. Just kind of just wanting it a little too much." On 15, Levin's drive bounced off the cart path on the right and ended up against a cactus in the desert area. He took an awkward stance near the cactus and got the ball back into the second cut just off the fairway with a hockey-style slap with his driver. He emerged with jumping cholla stuck in his shirt and pants, then hit his third shot in the water short and right of the green. "I pushed it a little bit, but I guess I didn't hit enough club," Levin said. "I thought 4-iron would go over the green and 5-iron didn't carry." Stanley parred the final three holes, hitting a difficult recovery shot to 20 feet from an awkward angle under cactus to the right of the green on the short par-4 17th. "It's not a shot you really ever practice," Stanley said. "I had pitching wedge out, Brett (Waldman, his caddie) gave me the sand wedge. Just shut the face and tried to play a little bit of a hook, and it came off perfect." Playing two groups ahead of Levin, Stanley birdied five of the first 11 holes to get to 13 under, and within three strokes of the faltering leader. Levin birdied No. 3 to reach 18 under, but bogeyed Nos. 4 and 6 and dropped two more strokes on 11 and 12 to let Stanley into the mix. Stanley, though, wasn't fully aware where he stood. "I didn't pay much attention to the leaderboards until maybe four or five holes left," Stanley said. "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. "I made the mistake of thinking about it probably all of the final round last week. So, this week, I just kind of tried to just let it happen." DIVOTS: Crane shot a 66. ... Phil Mickelson tied for 26th at 6 under after a 73. "I just couldn't quite get it going," the former Arizona State star said. ... The crowd was announced at 58,447, bringing the seven-day total to 518,262. A tournament-record 173,210 watched play Saturday.

Brissett sees room for improvement but feels he's 'moving in the right direction'

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Brissett sees room for improvement but feels he's 'moving in the right direction'

HOUSTON -- It wasn't the mechanics of his throwing motion that he was concerned about. For Jacoby Brissett, it was the way in which he was seeing the Texans defense, the length of time it took to get a feel for the game, and how his night ended that bothered him. 

"I felt like I was getting my rhythm," Brissett said after the Patriots lost their exhibition with the Texans on Saturday, 23-20. "But you can't really remember all that stuff when the last play happens like that. It's the last one."

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Though the outcome of the game meant nothing, Brissett and his teammates were looking for a game-winning touchdown with less than a minute left when Brissett had the ball knocked from his hands and out of the back of the end zone for a touchback. 

Brissett's night finished up with him going 5-for-10 for 36 yards. He was sacked twice and pressured on seven of his 15 drop-backs. 

The reserves playing for the Texans in the fourth quarter made life difficult for Brissett and his teammates as their first two drives resulted in punts. Brissett was hit twice on those drives, and his first third-down attempt failed when Houston sniffed out a screen. The Patriots had what looked like a third-and-21 conversion on their next sequence, but Devin Lucien bobbled a catch deep over the middle of the field that fell incomplete. 

Brissett seemed to make a couple of relatively difficult throws during his time on the field -- he nearly had a game-winning touchdown pass completed to Cody Hollister on a fade to the back corner of Houston's end zone, but Hollister got just one foot in-bounds -- yet he wished he could have done more to spark the Patriots offense quickly.

"I think I'm throwing the ball good," he said. "I don't think that's the issue. I think it's more so just my eyes and the timing of everything. I don't think it's throwing -- actually throwing. I think it's the mechanics of playing the game."

There was some good to be taken from Brissett's brief outing. After taking over possession with less than two minutes left, he helped the Patriots get deep into Texans territory with completions to Lucien, Sam Cotton and a third-down strike to DJ Foster. He also avoided a near sack, getting out of bounds to stop the clock, and he wisely spiked the football into the turf when he realized Houston had figured out another screen was coming.

Brissett looked back on where the third-team offense was at the start of camp -- with players like receivers Tony Washington and KJ Maye having just been added to the roster -- and pointed out that he felt they were significantly ahead of where they were then.

"I think we've gotten a lot better," Brissett said. "Just this two-minute drive is a good example. Last week we didn't make it past, what, the 40-yard line [against Jacksonville]? This week we're in the red zone with a chance to win the game. I think a lot of our young guys are stepping up and making plays and we're getting a little continuity together."

As for Brissett himself? The 2016 third-round pick has been the subject of some media speculation as to whether or not his spot on the 53-man roster is safe. After seeing some inconsistency in his play during camp practices and last week's game against the Jaguars, there were those who wondered if he was progressing at a rate that would help him survive this year's cutdown date. 

Asked to give a self-evaluation after the Texans game, Brissett said, "I definitely want to do more and play better, but there are good things getting done, good learning experiences. Moving in the right direction . . . 

"I feel like I'm still getting better. I think I'm doing good things. I mean, this league is hard. You just continue to work on things and continue to get better. Yeah, [tonight] the end result is a loss, but there were some good things we did out there. Some things it's good to get on film and learn from. It's a learning experience. That's what this is right now."

Whether the coaching staff sees the improvement Brissett described is unclear. 

"We've all got a long way to go," Belichick said following Saturday's game when asked about Brissett's progress. "I don't think anybody's where we need to be. Any player. Any coach. Any anybody . . . Just grinding it out. It's going to take a while."

Brissett insisted that coaches have been just as tight-lipped behind the scenes when it comes to how they've seen him grow summer. 

"I don't know what they think," Brissett said with a smile. "They don't tell me . . . I'm putting my best foot forward. It's up to them if they think I've been getting better or not."