I’ll have to admit, I had called 26 year-old Rickie Fowler out a couple of times in previous posts because he hadn’t won a PGA Tour golf tournament since the 2012 Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte. Even though he had some great finishes in major championships during the 2014 season, he still needed to win some regular tournaments to validate his media-driven popularity.
Overrated? I don’t think so!
I’m not sure if he had a case of the a__ on Sunday at the 2015 Players Championship because he had been tagged by Sports Illustrated along with Ian Poulter as being over-rated, but something got into him on the back nine at TPC Sawgrass.
Whatever it was, along with Spaniard, Sergio Garcia, and up-and-newcomer, Kevin Kisner, Rickie Fowler gave golf fans the most exciting golf tournament of the year and one of the better finishes in the Players Championship history.
The former Oklahoma State Cowboy (not even dressed in his traditional Orange for the finale’) seemed to plod along for three and a half rounds of golf just treading water. Even his Mother, sister and girl friend were headed for the airport to catch a flight home.
His run really started on the difficult par three 13th hole, but it was the big par-save at 14 that seemed to light the fire. He birdied the fifteenth hole, but his second shot at the 16th hole is where he made history with not only the shot of the day, but the shot of the tournament.
It was a Fred Couples(1996) like shot to the massive 520 yard par five hole that looked to be a yard short, and in the water. But not only did it take a bounce, it took the correct bounce and rolled to within two feet of the hole for a gimme eagle three.
Fowler hit a laser gap wedge to the island green at the infamous 17th hole for what would turn out to be his first of three birdies at the iconic hole on Mothers Day.
Thanks to playing partner, Derek Fathauer, Fowler got a great read on a hard breaking putt at the 72nd hole for an impossible six under par run in his final six holes, and he got into the clubhouse with a two shot lead.
He would have to sit for an hour and fifteen minutes and watched the remainder of the field make a serious run at his 12 under par total.
Newby, Kevin Kisner made a serious run, which included barely missing a putt at the final hole that would have won the tournament outright.
The three-hole aggregate playoff would be another trip through the gauntlet at 16, 17 and 18 and include Fowler, Kevin Kisner and Sergio Garcia.
All three players hit bad drives at 16, and all scrambled to pars at the monster par five hole, but it was the 17th where they would eliminate Garcia and prevent his second win at this event.
Kisner and Fowler went to the 18th tee with a one-shot lead over Sergio, and pars all around at 18 would send Sergio to the locker room.
Rickie Fowler and 31 year-old Kevin Kisner went back to the 17th hole in a sudden death format. Both players went for the pin with Kisner’s shot taking a bad hop off the edge of the trap and bouncing 15 feet past the flag to the edge of the green.
Cool, calm and collected, Rickie Fowler hit another laser that put him inside four feet, and a winning birdie. His third of the day at 17, and his fifth of the week at arguably, the PGA Tours most exciting hole.
It took almost three years for Rickie Fowler to win his second tournament on the PGA Tour, but he did it in what should be the fifth major of the year against a world class field at the worlds first stadium golf course, at it’s toughest hole.
Rickie Fowler’s mother, sister and girlfriend left the airport, and were able to make it back to Ponte Vedra Beach to watch the tours most popular player remove any doubt that he is a world-class player win the biggest tournament of his life.
Overrated? I don’t think so!
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