Kyle Stanley kisses the Waste Management Open trophy / Getty Images
It wasn't supposed to be this easy for Kyle Stanley. One week after suffering one of the most heart-wrenching defeats in golf history -- blowing a five-shot lead heading into Sunday at the Farmers Insurance Open -- the 24-year-old had to wonder if he'd ever get over the pain of blowing a tournament that, for all intents and purposes, was his for the taking.
Nobody, I repeat nobody expected him to pick himself off the floor one week later and get in contention at the Waste Management Open. It was too soon; Stanley wasn't ready mentally to get back in the heat of the battle and contend for another title. At least that's what most of us thought. It just didn't seem possible ... until it happened on Sunday in Phoenix.
Doing his best Rory McIlroy impression -- you know, the kid who blew a huge Masters lead only to win months later at the U.S. Open, Stanley picked himself off the mat and put together one of the most incredible comebacks of the season, coming from seven shots back to win just a week after, you guessed it, Brandt Snedeker came from seven back to beat Stanley in San Diego.
We've come to expect the unexpected in the sports world; we've seen teams blow huge and lose only to come back and win in the exact same fashion later in the season. But rarely do teams, or players for that matter, ever get over the heartache of a huge loss in a matter of days.
Losing takes a mental toll on you, and when you play in an individual sport, you have nobody to blame but yourself for a missed putt or a poor wedge shot. Sure, David Toms did it last year, losing at Sawgrass only to win a week later at Colonial. But the difference between the two was Toms had been there before.
Stanley, on the other hand, was trying to break through and win for the first time on the PGA Tour -- something most pros will tell you is by far the most difficult thing to do. That's why Kyle Stanley's win at the Waste Management Open was so improbable.
You just don't expect guys going for the first PGA Tour win to be able to push aside the doubts and the demons after such a collapse and win seven days later. But after watching Kyle Stanley this week, it's clear he's cut from a different cloth than most guys on tour.
"I know I may not have believed it on Sunday night, or even Monday morning, but everybody just kept telling me I'll be a lot stronger for it, and I agree with that," Stanley said at the beginning of the week, following his playoff defeat. "I will."
He's certainly stronger for the lesson he learned in San Diego. One week after his heart-wrenching defeat, he's now on top of the golf world.
- Kyle Stanley