Rickie Fowler sank a five-foot birdie putt on the fourth play hole to beat Kevin Kisner and win the 42nd Players Championship on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra, Fla.
The 26-year-old Fowler, from Murrieta, and Kisner finished a three-hole aggregate playoff still even with 11 strokes after ending 72 holes tied for the lead with Sergio Garcia of Spain, who needed 12 shots on the regulation playoff holes.
“I waited a long time for this; it was fun, this is special,” said Fowler, whose only other PGA Tour victory came in the 2012 Wells Fargo Championship. “I new Kis was going to hit a good shot (on the second playoff hole). I just had to take advantage of my opportunity. This is a pretty big one.
” … I knew it was just a matter of time, because I was hitting it great, but was scrambling because I was winding up barely off the fairway or just missing the green. I just had to keep hitting good shots and making putts.”
Fowler was 1-over-par for the day after 12 holes in the final round before blistering the last six holes of the Stadium Course in 6-under, with four birdies and an eagle on the 16th hole, where he hit his approach from 240 yards to within two feet.
Rickie, who closed with a 67, was 8-under on his last 10 holes including the playoff and birdied the famed 17th hole with its island green five times in six tries during the week.
Kisner, 31, who has never won on the PGA Tour but claimed two titles on the Web.com Tour, birdied two of the last three holes to post a 69. He barely missed a 10-foot birdie putt on the final hole of regulation and another from just off the green on the third playoff hole.
Garcia, the 2008 Players champion, had a two-stroke lead in the final round and birdied the 16th and 17th holes, where he sank a 44-foot birdie putt, but made a costly bogey at No. 14 while closing with a 68.
Ben Martin, who won the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open last November for his first PGA Tour victory, was tied for the lead and had a chance to join the playoff, but drove into the trees on the 18th hole and made a bogey to shoot 70.
Martin finished one shot back in a tie for fourth with Bill Haas, who missed a 29-foot birdie putt in the final hole to also close with a 70.
Kevin Na of Diamond Bar, who shared the 36-hole lead, finished with a 71 that included a bogey on the final hole and wound up three strokes back in a tie for sixth with Rory Sabbatini of South Africa, who posted a bogey-free 69.
Top-ranked Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, coming off a victory in the WGC-Cadillac Match Play Championship in San Francisco, carded a 70 and was another stroke behind in a tie for eighth with left-hander Brian Harman (70), Jamie Donaldson (67) of Wales, John Senden (70) of Australia and Ryo Ishikawa (71) of Japan.
Tiger Woods closed with a 72 that included a triple-bogey 7 on the 14th hole, where he hit his tee shot into the water, and tied for 69th.