Scottsdale, Arizona – For Rickie Fowler, the Waste Management Phoenix Open has been the one that has gotten away. He finished runner up in 2010 & 2016, led after 54 holes last year and once again found himself atop the leaderboard to start a cold and wet Super Bowl Sunday at TPC Scottsdale.
After opening rounds of 64-65-64, Fowler’s lead was five after 54 holes, but after making double bogey on the par 4 – fifth things began to unravel. He righted the ship briefly with a birdie at the tenth, but sloppy execution met with a horrific break on the eleventh (after Fowler’s chip ran over the green into the hazard, he then took a drop. With the ball at rest on the lake bank, he strolled up to the green to take a look at what he was facing. Forces of nature somehow released the ball back down into the water) leading to triple bogey 7. At the same time one group ahead, Branden Grace was making a 50 ft bomb for birdie on the par 3 – twelfth, taking the lead.
Fowler’s malaise continued on the twelfth, where he made another bogey. Never losing composure, Rickie settled down with pars on the next two. He then went to work at the par 5 fifteenth. His tee shot found the shortgrass, and from 252 yards he hit his best approach of the day safely reaching the green in two. An easy two-putt for birdie got him back to -16. A clutch up & down inside the stadium (that is known as the 16th at TPC Scottsdale) proceeded his best tee shot on Sunday. The fan favorite piped his drive onto the center of the putting surface at the seventeenth, his two-putt birdie to seized control. Just moments before, Branden Grace rinsed his tee shot on the drivable par 4 ending any real hopes of winning. Fowler saved par at the home hole to shoot 74 (-17) to win by two and finally capture the one that has eluded him since he turned professional nearly a decade ago.
“It really wasn’t fun there for a couple of holes,” Fowler said. “I had to find a way to get it done, it was a learning experience. I made some good swings down the stretch to give myself a chance to get it done.”
Branden Grace finished solo second after a final round 69. Justin Thomas was third at 14 under par after his 72 on Sunday.