Rickie Fowler sank a birdie putt from just inside 12 feet on Sunday to win a playoff for the Rocket Mortgage Classic title.
Fowler defeated fellow American Collin Morikawa, a two-time Major champion, and Canada’s Adam Hadwin to capture his first victory since the 2019 Phoenix Open and his sixth PGA Tour triumph overall.
“It’s just nice to have this one out of the way,” Fowler said. “I’m obviously going to soak this one in and celebrate a bit. It has just been a long road. I’ll get emotional at some point.”
Fowler (34) won the 2017 Players Championship but has struggled in recent years, falling to 185th in the world rankings last year before reviving his form this season with nine top-20 finishes in his past 10 events.
“I had to keep putting the time in, keep grinding, keep pushing,” Fowler said. “Then I started to see some positive results and to build some confidence and momentum last fall.
“There’s been a lot of great stuff this year. I knew it was a matter of time the way I’ve been playing.”
In the four years, four months and 29 days between his titles, Fowler became a husband and father and smiled as he held his daughter Maya on the 18th green.
“Winning is great,” Fowler said. “But there’s a lot more to life than that.”
Morikawa, Fowler and Hadwin all finished 72 holes on 24-under-par 264 at rain-softened Detroit Golf Club, where players started early in threesomes to escape a stormy afternoon forecast.
Fowler, Morikawa and Hadwin shared the lead at 23 under as they came down the stretch. Morikawa and Hadwin each birdied the par-five 17th but Fowler needed three to reach the fringe there and settled for par.
At 18, Fowler dropped his approach just over three feet from the hole and tapped in to reach the playoff.
“My back was against the wall,” Fowler said. “I didn’t take advantage of some opportunities I had on the back nine to win in regulation, but I’ll take it any way I can get it.”
The playoff began at 18 and Fowler booked his tee shot right into the crowd with his rivals in the fairway.
But Fowler dropped his approach just inside 12 feet from the hole while Morikawa went over the green and like Hadwin ended up just over 21 feet from the hole.
Hadwin’s putt rolled past, Morikawa’s chip was short and Fowler then made his putt, standing in place and smiling at his long-sought victory.
“It was a nice moment just to kind of feel like the weight on my shoulders was finally off,” Fowler said.
A champion once again 🏆
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Morikawa and Hadwin had also been trying to snap victory droughts, with Hadwin’s only PGA Tour victory coming at the 2017 Valspar Championship.
“I would have liked to have made a couple more putts,” Hadwin said. “But I did a lot of really good things. I’m proud of the way I kept going and had some fun. Hopefully this is a sign of good things to come.”
Morikawa, the 2020 PGA Championship and 2021 Open winner, hasn’t won a PGA Tour event since capturing the Claret Jug at Royal St George’s. His most recent triumph was at the 2021 European Tour’s season-ending championship at Dubai.
“You’ve got to execute the shots and we did a lot of that really well,” Morikawa said. “It was awesome to see. I haven’t seen that for 72 holes in a while. It’s kind of the old Collin hopefully back … It will be really exciting for me heading to The Open.”
World No 9 Max Homa, the highest-ranked player in the field, aced the par-three 15th from 140 yards with a pitching wedge.
Germany’s Stephan Jaeger matched the course record with a 63 to share ninth on 18-under 270.
South Africans MJ Daffue and Garrick Higgo both shot final-round 68s to finish on 14-under 274 (T24) and 12-under 276 (T33) respectively. Christiaan Bezuidenhout’s 72 saw him share 56th position on eight-under 280.
© Agence France-Presse