After anonymous comments from his peers, Rickie Fowler delivered a motivated performance this weekend on the PGA Tour’s biggest stage, the Players Championship.
Fowler came to TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, to news that his peers had voted him and English golfer Ian Poulter as the most overrated players in all of golf. Fowler gave no indication that the poll irritated him publicly.
When asked about the poll in an interview following the victory, Fowler responded by saying “Nah, I laughed at the poll…”
Using the upsetting result of the survey as extra fuel, Fowler stretched together a string of brilliant golf on a sweltering Mother’s Day weekend to win the biggest event of his career.
An eagle and four birdies in his last six regulation holes propelled Fowler into a three-man playoff with Kevin Kisner, who lost a playoff three weeks ago to Jim Furyk at the RBC Heritage, and Sergio Garcia, who won the event in 2008.
In the first three-hole, aggregate-score playoff in Players Championship history, Fowler tied with Kisner at 1 under par with yet another birdie, eliminating Sergio Garcia. The playoff then shifted into sudden death on the par-3 17th. Fowler threw a dart into the dangerous hole, giving him a birdie to clinch the tournament.
The 26-year-old California native played his final 10 holes at eight under par.
“I was always looked at as the guy who had just one win on the Tour,” Fowler said to USA Today. “I wanted to get in position more to change that, and I did that last year, but I just wasn’t the last man standing. I look to be in this position more.”
Fowler, while only having one win on the Tour, which came in the 2012 Wells Fargo Championship, finished in the top 5 of each major last year, joining the elite company of Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods, who were the only others that accomplished this feat.
Both of Fowler’s Tour victories have come in three-man playoffs. In 2012, he had to compete with D.A. Points and now world No. 1 Rory McIlroy to win the Wells Fargo Championship.
After the stellar showing, Fowler was greeted with a huge kiss from model girlfriend Alexis Randock.
Fowler hopes to use this momentum to propel him to a top finish in a little over a month at the U.S. Open. He finished third in the tournament last year.
With this win, Rickie Fowler will move up five spots to career-high No. 8 in the world rankings.
[Image Source: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images]