Fowler stays tough down stretch to finish off Honda Classic win

AP Photo by Wilfredo Lee

It wasn’t easy and at times, it was ugly, but in the end Rickie Fowler made enough big shots and converted enough birdie putts on the final nine at PGA National to capture the 2017 Honda Classic.

Fowler began the day with a four shot lead and definitely, wobbled on the front side with two bogeys and a double bogey, which narrowed that lead down to one. But, he then stepped up with two huge putts for birdie. The first came here at the 12th:

That would give the 28 year old Californian a two shot lead, again. He made another lengthy birdie on the 13th and the cushion was again three and Fowler could rest easy….for a bit.

With others who had made moves up the board, Americans Gary Woodland and Jimmy Walker, finding the water down the stretch, making bogeys, and falling off the pace, Fowler had a gaffe of his own.

It came on the dangerous par 3 17th tee shot, where Fowler in 18-20 MPH wind, with a five shot lead, went right at the pin and this happened:

Amazingly, he opened the tourney back up at that moment. However, he went to the drop area, knocked his third shot close, made the putt for four, and kept the lead at four to go on to win.

“My putter saved me,” Fowler stated to NBC TV immediately after. “It was tough out there….the wind was tough today. It was blowing pretty heavy and kept us on our toes…..the two birdies I made on 12 and 13. If I don’t make those putts, I’ve got a pretty tight race.”

[graphiq id=”jCc1XvcPfyB” title=”Rickie Fowler Profile” width=”600″ height=”724″ url=”” ]

Morgan Hoffman and Woodland tied for second at -8. Venezuela’s Jhonattan Vegas shot a 64 in the final round to take fourth.

It’s the fourth win on the PGA Tour for Fowler and his seventh worldwide win.

He further told Steve Sands on NBC, “(This) just kinda let’s us chill out in a way. Less pressure. Less stress. I think this something we needed going to Augusta.”

Between now and then, Fowler has to be one of the favorites at next week’s WGC-Mexico Championship, the Dell Match Play in Texas in March and later, the Arnold Palmer Invitational back in Orlando.

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