Rickie Fowler finally won the Waste Management Phoenix Open, but it was anything but easy.
The 30-year-old from Murrieta survived some bad shots and bad breaks as he lost a five-stroke lead on the back nine, but still won by two strokes over Branden Grace of South Africa in rainy, windy conditions at TPC Scottsdale https://tpc.com/scottsdale in Scottsdale, Ariz.
“It wasn’t fun there four a couple holes, I’ll tell you that,” said Fowler, who claimed his fifth PGA Tour victory. “Other than two holes it was a pretty good round of golf. No. 11 could have turned this tournament the opposite way, but I’m pleased with the way I kept moving forward. I was able to roll with the punches.
“I finally was able to win in front of my dad, and grandpa and grandma. It was not easy out there with the conditions. There weren’t very many low scores. I was able to dig deep and I’m happy to finally win here. It was a long time coming. I just had to find a way to get it done, but I don’t want to go through that again.”
Fowler fell behind Grace by making a triple-bogey 7 on the 11th hole followed by a bogey at No. 12, but he birdied Nos. 15 and 17 to go back ahead on his way to finishing 72 holes at 17-under 267.
His chip shot skipped off the green and into the water at No. 11. Incredibly, his new ball also rolled back into the water for another penalty stroke after he placed it on the slope behind the green.
Then Fowler, who also made a double-bogey 6 at No. 5, sank an 18-foot putt to save that triple bogey.
Last year, Fowler also led at TPC Scottsdale heading to the final round, but closed with three straight bogeys to shoot 73 and tie for 11th. That came after two runner-up finishes and a tie for fourth in the Phoenix-area event in recent years.
Grace took the lead with birdies at Nos. l2 and 13, but could manage only four pars and a bogey at No. 17 down the stretch while shooting a 69, and Justin Thomas was one more shot down in third after making birdies on the last two holes for a 72.
Chez Reavie sank a seven-foot eagle putt on the 13th hole en route to a 68 to finish five back in a tie for fourth with Bubba Watson, who had a 71, and Matt Kuchar, who stumbled to a 75.
Defending champion Gary Woodland closed with a 72 that left him and six behind in a tie for seventh with Chris Stroud and Sungjae Im of South Korea, who both shot 69.
Sixth-ranked Jon Rahm of Spain, the local favorite who played at Arizona State, totaled 69 to wind up seven back in a tie for 10th with seventh-ranked Xander Schuaffele (68) of La Jolla and San Diego State, Russell Knox (68) of Scotland, Jhonattan Vegas (69) of Venezuela and Harold Varner III (71).
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