Called a “sure thing”, “next prodigal son,” etc., Rickie Fowler made it into the winner’s circle in just under three years after leaving Oklahoma State as a sophomore. And he did it under intense circumstances with the world’s #1 Rory McIlroy going toe to toe with him. The Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow was filled with drama all day Sunday, and Rickie delivered with a great birdie on the first playoff hole to beat Rory and D.A. Points.
Not only was the golf competitive and energy packed, the golf course was spectacular, and set-up to make for a great Sunday. Webb Simpson, one of the young guns that blossomed last year, is a local, and member of the club – he had the lead going into Sunday. And while Rickie, D.A., and Rory were already in the clubhouse, Webb missed a 20 footer to also get into the playoff. D.A. had a one shot lead coming into the 18th and final hole, and made his first bogey in over 40 holes to fall back into a tie with Rory and Rickie. But just seconds later, Rory had a chance to win from 15 feet, but missed, guaranteeing a playoff.
As a spectator watching the playoff, you wondered how all three of them would perform on that 18th hole. The fairway narrows as you proceed down the hole, and looks like it’s no wider than the top of your forearm. There is a beautiful rambling creek running the length of the hole, up the left side, and only 10 yards left of the fairway; and then the creek cuts in up at the green. The pin was front left and only 20 to 30 feet from the creek. There were only a handful of birdies all day. Well, all three of them ripped it down the middle, with Rory out-driving them with his 3-wood – are you kidding me? He hit the 3-wood 330 yards!!! But it was “Fowler time” as he stuffed that second shot in there to about 4 feet. After both D.A. and Rory missed, he calmly knocked in the putt to win! Can you imagine how nervous you would be with a four footer to win your first tournament, and he just canned it, firmly, right in the center.
So after Bubba’s win, you have to wonder if there is a new recipe for success. Remember who was out at the Masters playoff to congratulate Bubba? Well, it was Rickie, and they are part of a group of devout Christians who really support one another (Ben Crane and Aaron Baddeley). Ben Crane was there at the end yesterday to support and congratulate Rickie. But there is more – have you seen Rickie’s swing – “homemade” – just like Bubba’s….God and the homemade swing – maybe the new ticket to success on the PGA tour!