NBC announcer Johnny Miller said Rickie Fowler’s approach shot that landed and stopped on the same line as Derek Fathauer’s ball on the 18th hole at TPC Sawgrass at The Players Championship on Sunday was a ‘gift from heaven.’
Fowler’s ball settled a few feet in front of Fathauer’s ball. This allowed Fowler to step behind Fathauer and watch him putt first to see exactly how the ball would break toward the hole. Fathauer missed his putt as the ball bent right at the end.
“There’s no way Fowler would have known the ball would move right like that,” Miller said affirming the good fortune of Fowler seeing the break before attempting his putt.
Even though he knew the break, Fowler still had to get his putt on line with the right speed.
Fowler stood over his ball, slowly taking his putter back, and with a smooth, easy motion pushed the ball down the line. When the ball rolled within a foot of the hole, it started turning right.
The crowd stood on their feet. The ball kept its steady pace until finally dropping over the front edge of the hole as a roar lifted up into the sunny blue skies at the Stadium Course in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.
Fowler’s birdie on 18 allowed him to post a 12 under score setting a tournament record by playing the last 6 holes in 6 under par. Sergio Garcia led by 5 strokes at the time Fowler went on his streak.
Falling 2 strokes behind after Fowler’s surge, Garcia made a spectacular 43 foot putt on the famous 17th Island hole for consecutive birdies to tie Fowler at 12 under.
Garcia drilled an approach shot on 18 that ironically ended up where Fowler had made his birdie putt. But there was a difference. Garcia didn’t have the fortune of another golfer putting ahead of him on the same line. Garcia missed his putt to the right.
Kevin Kisner joined Garcia and Fowler in a playoff after missing a birdie putt on the right edge at 18. As if by divine intervention, Fowler was the only player in contention not to miss his putt to the right side of the hole at 18.
Garcia dropped out after 3 holes as Kisner and Fowler were 1 under during the aggregate playoff. Kisner and Fowler went back to the Island hole for sudden death.
Kisner missed his birdie putt. Then Fowler stepped up and with cool precision, guided his putt into the cup for his first big tournament championship.
“I’ve been waiting a long time for this,” Fowler said holding the trophy. “I want to thank my mom on Mother’s Day. She had checked in at the airport and then canceled her flight and came back. I’m glad I made it worth her while.”
In an anonymous poll of PGA Tour players that went public at the start of the week, Fowler and Ian Poulter tied for most overrated player, with each receiving 24% of the vote.
Fowler answered his peers by making shot after shot, finishing 8 under on the final 10 holes he played at TPC Sawgrass.
One of the most entertaining, charismatic young players on the PGA tour, Fowler needed a signature win to gain credibility with the national sports media, who have mainly considered him more flash than substance. Now, he has that win.
Major mortgage lender Quicken Loans announced last month they would be sponsoring Fowler and hiring him as a spokesperson.
Quicken Loans’ President Jay Farner said, “Rickie is a perfect fit to represent our energetic company and a great partner as we continue to launch exciting experiences for our clients!”
Despite his image, Fowler isn’t a big partier or drinker. He regularly attends the PGA Tour’s weekly Bible study events. You’ll find him there with other pros like Webb Simpson, Ben Crane and Bubba Watson. Fowler carries his faith onto the course as well. During the Ryder Cup, he marked his golf balls with Bible verses.
In Fowler, the PGA may have a new face to stimulate the Millennial generation into avid golf fans. The tour needs someone different from Tiger… on and off the course.