Sunday, May 6, 2012

Rickie Fowler Wins his first PGA Tour Event at Quail Hollow and the 2012 Wells Fargo Championship

Wow, what a back nine!  This was as exciting a golf tournament as we'll ever see.  Coming down the stretch, we had two of the most promising young players in the game, Rickie Fowler and Rory McIroy, and a grizzled veteran in D.A. Points all in contention for the win.  After Fowler made a bogey at the tough par 4 16 from the front bunker, many thought he was out of it.  And Rory McIlroy bogeyed 17 after a bad tee shot on the short par 3.  That left D.A. Points as the solo leader after being tied with the other two for most of the round.  At 18, Points found himself in the greenside bunker in 2, and could not get up and down for the win.  McIlroy missed a 15 footer to win, and Fowler also missed a decent birdie opportunity.

So a playoff was in store.  Now the only thing left to determine was the number of players in the playoff.  Webb Simpson, the leader heading into the final round, still had a shot to hit 14 under.  But a drive in the rough followed by a not-so-stellar second shot left a tough putt for birdie.  The putt fell on the low side of the hole and Simpson came in at 13-under and fourth place.

For the playoff, the 3 headed back to 18.  D.A. Points led off with a solid drive down the left side.  Rickie Fowler then stepped up and ripped his drive 15 yards past Points and also in the fairway.  Finally, McIlroy hit 3 wood and was the closest of the three.  All three were in perfect position to attack the hole with a wedge.

First up was D.A. Points.  His wedge shot flew over the hole and ended up 30 feet long in a tough position.  No way to make it from where he was.  It would take 2 great shots from there for him to make a par, and birdie was almost out of the question.

Next up was Fowler.  Fowler had about 15 yards longer in regulation and was now in between clubs.  He talked the yardage over with his caddie, Joe Skovron, and they settled on the yardage.  The shot Rickie hit has to be the shot of his career so far.  The ball landed on the front of the green, took one skip, and settled 4 feet from the hole with an uphill putt for birdie.

Finally, it was McIlroy's turn.  From only 120 yards out, it was a perfect green-light yardage with a gap wedge.  However, McIlroy pushed the ball right trying to take something off his shot, and left himself a 25 foot putt from the top of a ridge.  It definitely was not the kind of shot we all expected from the #1 player in the world.

On to the green, Points played his 3rd shot and was lucky to keep the ball on the front of the green.  McIlroy was next, and had about the same line as he did in regulation.  This time, however, the putt stayed to the left and finished outside of Fowler's ball.  Points was next up again, and sunk a 15 footer to remain in play.  McIlroy finished his putt from 4 feet and it was now Fowler's time to shine.  After 2 full years on the PGA Tour, it was finally #gotime.  Fowler lined up his putt, and finished it from 4 feet for birdie.  Fowler took home his first win on the PGA Tour and his second win as a professional.  There to greet him were his mom, girlfriend, and friends on tour Ben Crane and Aaron Baddeley.

This win could not have come to a more likeable guy on tour.  Rickie hopefully will be able to translate this performance into more wins this year and beyond.  Congrats!

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