Rickie Fowler seals fourth TOUR win at Honda
February 26, 2017
By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
- Rickie Fowler had some up-and-downs on Sunday, but bested the field handily to win his fourth TOUR event. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Notes and observations from Sunday’s final round of The Honda Classic, where Rickie Fowler won his fourth PGA TOUR title by four shots. For more from PGA National, check out the Daily Wrap-up.
Rickie Fowler’s accurate driving helped him build a four-shot lead through three rounds at The Honda Classic. He had to overcome a windy South Florida day, some wayward tee shots and the memory of past leads lost to win at PGA National, though.
It was the first time in five tries that Fowler turned a 54-hole lead into a victory, and his first PGA TOUR victory since September 2015.
Fowler shot 71 on Sunday to finish at 12-under 268 and win by the same margin with which he started the day. His former Oklahoma State teammate, Morgan Hoffmann, and Gary Woodland tied for second.
Fowler said that keeping his lead was more satisfying than ending his victory drought. “Being out front and getting the job done, especially with giving some back and having to fight back with it,” was what pleased him most about his fourth PGA TOUR win, he said.
Fowler, 28, moved to 10th in the FedExCup standings and is expected to return to the top 10 of the Official World Golf Ranking. He’s the 11th player in his 20s to win in 15 events this season. Seven of eight tournaments in 2017 have been won by players in their 20s, with an average age of 25.5.
Fowler’s lead was briefly down to one shot on the back nine, but he responded with birdies at Nos. 12, 13 and 16 to create some comfort and render bogeys on the final two holes meaningless.
“I started with a four-shot lead and I still won by four, so I didn’t play great, it wasn’t a pretty round, but we got the job done,” Fowler said. “A win’s a win.”
He shot 2 over par on Sunday’s front nine after hitting just two fairways. He made a double-bogey at the sixth hole after driving into the water and a wayward drive led to another at the ninth hole. His ball striking improved when he made the turn, and some clutch putting helped.
He made putts outside 20 feet on Nos. 12 and 13 before hitting 5-iron to 3 feet at the 16th hole.
“I would much rather have just won by 10,” Fowler said. “Being put up against the wall, you either play golf now or you’re not taking the trophy home. I knew what I needed to do.”
Rickie Fowler interview after winning Honda
PUTTING ON THE PRESSURE
Woodland was Fowler’s closest pursuer for most of Sunday, briefly pulling within a shot of the lead after a birdie at the 13th hole. Woodland also bogeyed the final two holes, though.
He still collected his second runner-up, and fourth top 10, of the season. Woodland now sits seventh in the FedExCup.
He shot 69 on Sunday to finish at 8-under 272. He three-putted from 22 feet on the 17th hole and hit his lay-up shot at the par-5 18th into the water to fall into a tie for second, though.
Woodland, who reached 10 under par with his birdie at No. 13, was hoping to reach 12 under par to apply pressure to Fowler.
“With three to go, obviously it’s a big task with 16, 17 and 18. I hit great shots into 16 and 17, had great looks, it was just unfortunate I didn’t get one to go in,” Woodland said.
Hoffmann’s runner-up was the best finish of his PGA TOUR career and ninth top-10 in 120 PGA TOUR starts.
BRYAN BREAKING OUT
Wesley Bryan, last year’s Web.com Tour Player of the Year, finished fourth at last week’s Genesis Open. It was the best finish of his rookie season, and he matched it at The Honda Classic, where he shared the 36-hole lead.
Bryan now ranks 59th in the FedExCup after those back-to-back T4s. He’s risen 89 spots in the standings in the past two weeks.
Bryan suffered a double-bogey at No. 16 after hitting his approach shot into the water, but made birdie on the par-3 17th after hitting his tee shot to 6 feet.
Wesley Bryan's marvelous tee shot on No. 17 at Honda
HATTON SEIZES OPPORTUNITY
Tyrrell Hatton, who accompanied Fowler in the final group, shot 72 to finish fourth in his first PGA TOUR event of the season.
Hatton is a 25-year-old Englishman who burst into the top 20 of the Official World Golf Ranking by finishing in the top 10 in two of last year’s majors and winning his first European Tour event. He’s finished no worse than T13 in his past four worldwide events, including three top-four finishes.
Hatton, No. 18 in the Official World Golf Ranking, made three bogeys and no birdies on the front nine Sunday, but played the back nine in 1 under par on a breezy day at PGA National. A non-member of the PGA TOUR, Hatton competed this week on a sponsor invitation.
ODDS AND ENDS
Jhonattan Vegas’ 64 was Sunday’s low round, and included a hole-in-one on the par-3 15th hole. Vegas used a 6-iron to ace the 179-yard hole, and was awarded a Honda CR-V for the shot. His round vaulted him 46 spots on the leaderboard and into a tie for fourth. He now ranks 36th in the FedExCup. Vegas’ ace was the second made on No. 15 this week. Scott Stallings also aced the hole. Vegas has two career holes-in-one, with his first coming at last year’s Barbasol Championship. … Martin Kaymer finished fourth to post his first top-five on the PGA TOUR since his victory at the 2014 U.S. Open. He was competing this week on a sponsor’s exemption. … The Honda Classic offered the final opportunity to qualify for next week’s World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship. Brendan Steele, Pat Perez and Mackenzie Hughes earned spots in the field by ranking in the top 10 of the FedExCup.
Shot of the Day
Jhonattan Vegas fires off an ace for the Shot of the Day