THE PLAYERS 2015: Rickie Fowler
Picking the best finish at THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass is akin to choosing the best musical performance at Carnegie Hall. So many choices, which is what you get when you have an annual gathering of the deepest and best field at THE PLAYERS Championship.
But you would have to start with 2015 where Rickie Fowler put on a Usain Bolt-like sprint to the finish line to leave fans breathless and competitors speechless.
Johnny Miller gushed to millions of TV viewers, “I’ll never forget this finish.” That’s because what the 26-year-old did was unforgettable, at the purest test in golf, no less.
Five strokes behind Sergio Garcia’s lead, Fowler walked to the par-3 13th and somehow, someway tossed on a switch. Birdie at 13 and 15, par at 14, then an eagle at 16 that was reminiscent of the one Fred Couples made at that same hole in 1996.
By now, the Stadium Course was being rocked by enormous roars and Fowler only kept them going. He birdied 17 and 18 for 5-under 67 and when Garcia and Kevin Kisner each birdied 16 and 17 there was a three-way tie as 12-under 276.
Giddy as fans were with that, they got more — the first three-hole aggregate playoff at 16, 17 and 18 at THE PLAYERS.
When THE PLAYERS folklore is circulated, Fowler at the island-green 17th will resonate loudly. He birdied it in regulation, then again in the playoff (as did Kisner). Now a sudden death back at 17, Fowler for a third time in less than an hour stuffed his shot within 7 feet, made his third birdie, and prevailed when Kisner missed. (For the week, Fowler birdied 17 five out of six times.)
“I’ve been waiting a long time for this,” said Fowler of his second PGA TOUR win. “I’d say this is a pretty big one.”
Some would say it was the best finish of all THE PLAYERS Championships.