It wasn’t easy for Rickie Fowler on Sunday at the Honda Classic. And then it was. And then it wasn’t again. Closing out big leads is sometimes more difficult mentally than coming from behind to win tournaments, and Sunday tested Fowler’s mettle. He shot a 1-over 71 in tough (but not absurd) conditions to win by four over Gary Woodland and Morgan Hoffmann.
Fowler played the first six holes in 2 over and saw his four-stroke lead coming into the day dwindle to just a couple over Woodland and a handful of other players. Then he sprayed a drive on the par-4 eighth hole into the pine straw. It was not dire, but it was not looking great for Fowler who was looking for his first PGA Tour win since the end of 2015.
Then he got up and down for birdie (!) from 160 yards out.
Fowler, who had destroyed the field with his driver all week, could not find a fairway. He lost a stroke to the field in the final round off the tee after gaining one or more in each of the first three days.
The bogey at No. 9 was the last one he would make until the tournament was under wraps. Fowler put away a couple of pars before sticking a fork in the field with two huge putts at Nos. 12 and 13. Combined feet of the two birdies: 62.
Fowler finished second in the field in putting for the week after gaining nearly three strokes on the field average on a day in which he shot 71.
Fowler needed a par-par finish to set the 72-hole scoring record. Instead, he went bogey-bogey but still won by four over Woodland and Hoffmann.
This is also the first time Fowler has ever closed out a 54-hole lead. He is one for five in his career. All of his other wins have been from behind.