Rickie Fowler got his breakthrough win in his 72nd career U.S. PGA Tour start, beating Rory McIlroy and D.A. Points in a playoff at golf’s Wells Fargo Championship.
Fowler, 23, hit a wedge to four feet on the first extra hole to set up the winning birdie yesterday at the Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina. He received $1.17 million for his first U.S. victory.
“I definitely knew I was good enough,” Fowler, who spent time as the world’s No. 1-ranked amateur golfer in 2007 and 2008 before being named the PGA Tour’s top rookie in 2010. “It was just getting everything to come together and stay patient.”
Fowler, McIlroy and Points finished regulation play tied at 14-under par, one stroke better than 54-hole leader Webb Simpson, who shot a final-round 73. Fowler closed with a 69 yesterday, while McIlroy had a 70 and Points shot 71, including his lone bogey of the weekend on the 18th hole.
In the playoff, Fowler struck a wedge from 132 yards that stopped just over four feet from the flag. He dropped the birdie putt after Points and McIlroy, the 2010 Wells Fargo Championship winner, had made their long par attempts.
Fowler, whose only previous professional title came at last year’s Korea Open, became the third-youngest winner at Quail Hollow after McIlroy (20) and Anthony Kim (22) in 2008.
Northern Ireland’s McIlroy, who was denied his second win in 2012, returned to the No. 1 spot in golf’s Official World Ranking. He entered the week needing to tie for seventh place or better to replace Luke Donald atop the rankings.
“It’s a little consolation,” McIlroy, 23, said during a news conference. “I would rather win the tournament. I want to try and play well for the next few weeks and try and solidify my spot there at No. 1.”
Tiger Woods missed the two-round cut at the event, his first since last month’s Masters Tournament.
The PGA Tour next moves to the TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, for the $9.5 million Players Championship.