Rickie Fowler raises his arms in victory after winning the Honda Classic.
Palm Beach Gardens, Florida – On a windswept but chamber of commerce afternoon in the Palm Beaches, Rickie Fowler had to overcome the field, Jack Nicklaus’ Bear Trap and a history of not closing the deal (0-4 when leading after 54 holes) to notch his fourth career PGA Tour victory at the Honda Classic.
Using a new 43 1/2 inch driver to emphasize accuracy, and a hot flatstick (Fowler was 57 for 57 on putts inside 7 feet for the week), Fowler made clutch birdies at the twelfth, thirteenth and sixteenth that provided enough cushion to keep his challengers in the rear view mirror. Even after bogeys on the final two holes (finishing at -12 with rounds of 66-66-65-71), the winning margin was by four shots over Morgan Hoffman and Gary Woodland. Playing partner Tyrrell Hatton of England struggled early on Sunday with bogeys at the first, fourth and seventh holes to fall out of contention, he finished tied for fourth at 7 under par.
Although a native of California, Fowler 28, has called the Palm Beach/Jupiter area home since playing in PGA Tour Q-school at nearby Bear Lakes Country Club in 2010. Motivated by the recent success of his pals Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth, Fowler seemed as relieved as he was jubilant after notching the hometown win. Butch Harmon had expressed earlier in the week that Fowler had worked hard in the off season to re-gain his form and was peaking at the right time.
“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. “I guess I can plan for Hawaii next year.”
Fowler has moved to ninth in the Official World Golf Rankings, and tenth in the Fedex Cup standings.
Jhonattan Vegas made a “Hole in 1” on the treacherous par 3 fifteenth on Sunday.