Rickie Fowler had to endure a strange and frustrating day in Scottsdale on Sunday, but in the end, he still managed to walk away as the winner of the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
Fowler threw away a five-shot lead on the final day before finally putting away the tournament, ultimately finishing 17-under par for the week and beating Branden Grace by two strokes.
Bizarre Penalty Nearly Leads to Disaster
In the middle of the final round, it looked as though Fowler might be heading for his third career second-place finish at TPC Scottsdale.
On the 11th hole, Fowler ended up in the water after an attempted pitch rolled off the green. Things took a turn for the bizarre when after taking a routine drop, Fowler walked up to the green to take a look at his options – only for his ball to roll back into the water yet again.
After talking to a rules official, it was determined that because the ball had come to rest before going into the hazard, Fowler would have to take a penalty stroke. After finally pitching back onto the green and making a putt, Fowler had to card a seven on the par-4 hole.
“That was a big kind of turnaround,” Fowler said after the tournament. “At worst I make bogey with a semi-decent chip and I’m still very much in control of the tournament. But with everything that happened there, that was a [four-shot] swing pretty quickly. It sucks, but it’s just kind of put that behind me.”
Fowler Recovers to Claim Win
But after Grace surged, taking a one-shot lead after sinking back-to-back birdie putts on 12 and 13, Fowler managed to settle himself. A birdie on 15 tied things up again, after which the 17th hole proved decisive, as Fowler carded a birdie and Grace bogeyed after putting his tee shot into the water.
In the end, Fowler got the win he was looking for – just not in the way he had imagined.
“I hope I never have to go through that again,” Fowler said after the tournament. “I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but I thought it was going to be a lot easier than that out there today. We got dealt a tough day of weather and conditions. There weren’t many low scores. It was just kind of grind it out, had a couple tough breaks and kind of just had to deal with the punches.”
Justin Thomas finished at 14-under to take third place, while Chez Reavie, Bubba Watson, and Matt Kuchar tied for fourth, five shots behind Fowler.
The victory was the fifth of Fowler’s career, and the first for the American since 2017. Fowler is currently ranked No. 8 on the official world golf rankings list.