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Anyone think Rickie’s overrated now?

Five shots off the lead, Fowler hit the ignition switch at the Players

He delivered on Sunday. Delivered like no other winner on Tour has delivered in more than 30 years. Five shots off the lead, Fowler hit the ignition switch. Buoyed by a par save out of a tough fairway bunker at the previous hole, he rolled in a 12-1/2 foot birdie putt at the 13th. Then he made par on the tough 14th. From there? Birdie, eagle, birdie, birdie. Since the Tour began tracking hole-by-hole scores in 1983, no winner had ever played the final four holes of an event in 5 under.

He walked off the 18th green with the lead at 12 under, then walked nearly the entire path to the scoring area while hugging his girlfriend, Alexis Randock. He signed his card, and then was met outside by Billy Horschel. But the celebration had to be muted. The rest of the field, having slumbered through most of the final round, took Fowler’s cue and finally seemed to wake up.Sergio Garcia, the leader most of the day after a front-nine string of birdies, made a 44-footer for birdie at the 17th. It was the longest putt he made all year. Kevin Kisner also birdied the 17th. Both were now tied with Fowler – and Kisner even had a chance to win outright on the final hole of regulation, missing a birdie putt from inside 10 feet.

That forced the first three-hole aggregate playoff in Players history, the format having changed from sudden death before last year’s tournament. Fowler and Kisner birdied the 17th and Garcia didn’t, proving to be the decisive factor for his elimination one hole later.Back to 17, which was now sudden death. Fowler had conquered it all week. Kisner went first, delivering a nice tee shot inside 13 feet. 

Fowler’s was better, inside 5 feet. You know which one sank the putt. It was Fowler’s third birdie of the day at 17, and his fifth in sixth trips to the hole this week.Funny how the Tour’s most famous hole and one of its most popular golfers came together on Sunday to produce the most scintillating finish in Players history. And funny how Rickie Fowler just happens to win the same week he’s labeled as overrated.

Fowler isn’t worried about it. Not anymore. He’s tapping the top of the crystal trophy and wondering when to schedule his sitting for the champion’s portrait.




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