Skip to main content

Fowler finally comes of age with first PGA Tour title

By Gary Morley, CNN
May 7, 2012 -- Updated 1141 GMT (1941 HKT)
Rickie Fowler, one of golf's most colorful characters, celebrates his first PGA Tour title at Quail Hollow, where he won in a playoff against 2010 champion Rory McIlroy and D.A. Points. Rickie Fowler, one of golf's most colorful characters, celebrates his first PGA Tour title at Quail Hollow, where he won in a playoff against 2010 champion Rory McIlroy and D.A. Points.
HIDE CAPTION
Fowler's first
Support network
Bubba's buddy
Back to back
The making of McIlroy
Together again
Walker Cup winner
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Rickie Fowler wins his first PGA Tour title in playoff at Wells Fargo Championship
  • He beats Rory McIlroy and fellow American D.A. Points to $1.17 million prize
  • McIlroy, who returns to world No. 1, won the tournament for his first PGA title in 2010
  • Fowler wishes his friend Bubba Watson had been there to share the celebrations

(CNN) -- When Rickie Fowler was named the PGA Tour's rookie of the year in 2010, the groundswell of opinion outside the U.S. was that the award should have gone to another young golfing prodigy -- Rory McIlroy.

While the Northern Irishman went on to win his first major title in 2011, and climbed to the top of the world rankings this year, Fowler had been hanging on the cusp of his own breakthrough.

Until Sunday, that is, when the 23-year-old claimed his first PGA Tour title at the same Quail Hollow venue where McIlroy made his mark two years ago with a stunning final-round 62 that secured his maiden U.S. victory.

Clad in his trademark bright orange outfit, his shock of hair barely contained by his hat, and a mustache nestling above his top lip that any 1970s detective would be proud of, Fowler produced his own moment of magic to beat McIlroy and fellow American D.A. Points in a playoff at the Wells Fargo Championship.

Woods misses halfway cut at Quail Hollow

His stunning wedge shot to within four feet of the hole at the tricky 18th, which had given up only four birdies all day, earned him the $1.17 million first prize and lifted him to 15th in the FedEx Cup standings and 24th in the world rankings.

Fifteen-year-old Lydia Ko is the youngest LPGA Tour winner in history courtesy of her win at the Canadian Women's Open. She was just 14 when she triumphed at the the New South Wales Open in January 2012, becoming the youngest player to win a professional tournament. She clinched the U.S. Amateur Championship two weeks ago. Fifteen-year-old Lydia Ko is the youngest LPGA Tour winner in history courtesy of her win at the Canadian Women's Open. She was just 14 when she triumphed at the the New South Wales Open in January 2012, becoming the youngest player to win a professional tournament. She clinched the U.S. Amateur Championship two weeks ago.
History maker
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
>
>>
Golf\'s young prodigies Golf's young prodigies
Luke Donald ended Rory McIlroy's two-week stay at the top of the world golf rankings with a third-place finish at the Zurich Classic -- his best result of the year. Luke Donald ended Rory McIlroy's two-week stay at the top of the world golf rankings with a third-place finish at the Zurich Classic -- his best result of the year.
Donald back on top
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
>
>>
Donald returns to No. 1 as Dufner wins at last Donald returns to No. 1 as Dufner wins at last
Luke Donald never recovered from an opening round of four-over 75 at Harbour Town Golf Links. Luke Donald never recovered from an opening round of four-over 75 at Harbour Town Golf Links.
Donald finishes down field
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
>
>>
McIlroy reclaims top ranking from Donald McIlroy reclaims top ranking from Donald
Ernie Els is most famous for his golfing exploits, but as his career reaches its twilight years he is focusing on a cause dear to his heart. Ernie Els is most famous for his golfing exploits, but as his career reaches its twilight years he is focusing on a cause dear to his heart.
Close to home
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
>
>>
Ernie Els: A father\'s love Ernie Els: A father's love

"For Rickie to go out and play that hole the way he did, he deserved to win," said McIlroy, who returned to world No. 1 above Englishman Luke Donald after taking home $572,000 in consolation.

"He probably has gone through a little bit of sort of scrutiny and a lot of pressure trying to get that first win, but now that win is out of the way. Hopefully that'll ease the pressure a little bit."

Fowler, who was the world's top amateur for 36 weeks, lost a playoff in his second tournament as a professional and has been runner-up three times on the main U.S. tour.

Rested McIlroy returns to PGA Tour

"It's nice to kind of shut them up a little bit," he said on the PGA Tour website. "It's going to be kind of a relief. It's been a wait, but I'm definitely still young, and hopefully this opens the door to many more. But it's nice to be mentioned as a PGA Tour winner.

"It's still going to be almost like having zero when someone like Phil (Mickelson) is getting announced with 40 and I've got one. I've got some work to do."

When Fowler lines up at this week's prestigious Players Championship, he will again be playing without one of his closest golfing friends -- Masters champion Bubba Watson, who skipped Quail Hollow to be with his wife and newly-adopted son and has also decided to sit out golf's "fifth major."

Final leaderboard at Wells Fargo Championship

Watson and Fowler make up half of golf's only boy band, the Golf Boys, along with Ben Crane and FedEx Cup leader Hunter Mahan.

"I'm bummed that Bubba wasn't around," said Fowler, who helped Watson celebrate after his Masters playoff victory in April.

"We weren't exactly inside the ropes but we had a front-row seat, and just to see how he handled himself, the shots he hit, just to feel the energy ... definitely being around there gave me the kind of want to win more."

It's not the first time Fowler has beaten McIlroy -- he did so by six shots in his only other professional win in a Korean event last year.

"Rory is the top-ranked young player right now, I'm probably the one that sticks out most with color," Fowler said. "Now I'm a PGA Tour winner, so I've got some credibility."

Fowler played in the 2010 Ryder Cup defeat against Europe, and Sunday's victory has lifted his hopes of playing in the U.S. team for this year's match in Medinah, Illinois.

Meanwhile, another player who made his Ryder Cup debut two years ago, Francesco Molinari, boosted his chance of a second appearance in September by winning the European Tour's Spanish Open on Sunday.

The Italian, whose brother Edoardo halved with Fowler in singles play at Celtic Manor in 2010, moved up to 10th place on the European Ryder Cup standings after winning by three shots in Seville.

The 29-year-old took home €333,330 ($435,000) after clinching his first title in 18 months, and climbed to 29th in the world rankings.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
April 22, 2014 -- Updated 1238 GMT (2038 HKT)
Eagles may be thin on the ground for most golfers at the Bear Trace course at Harrison Bay. But up in the treetops, it's a different matter.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1754 GMT (0154 HKT)
When someone tells you to go jump in a lake, sometimes it's best to take their advice. "I've never been so scared," says golfer Pablo Larrazabal.
Bubba Watson is the Masters king, but can he win a major away from Augusta? Living Golf's Shane O'Donoghue has the lowdown.
April 15, 2014 -- Updated 1412 GMT (2212 HKT)
Arnold Palmer
Arnold Palmer won his first major at Augusta, played there with the U.S. President and made a record 50 consecutive Masters appearances.
April 10, 2014 -- Updated 1202 GMT (2002 HKT)
He is remembered for designing one of the world's most famous golf courses, but the man behind Augusta died pleading to be paid.
April 10, 2014 -- Updated 1004 GMT (1804 HKT)
Take a trip around Augusta. From Eisenhower's toppled tree to the fiendishly-difficult Amen Corner, the Masters' home venue has it all.
April 8, 2014 -- Updated 1204 GMT (2004 HKT)
He's been mistaken for Tiger Woods' ball-boy, but that won't be the case when amateur star Matt Fitzpatrick tees off at the Masters.
April 4, 2014 -- Updated 1228 GMT (2028 HKT)
2012 Masters Champion Bubba Watson shows us how to hit the long ball.
April 3, 2014 -- Updated 1827 GMT (0227 HKT)
CNN's Shane O'Donoghue meets Billy Payne -- the chairman of Augusta National Golf Club.
April 3, 2014 -- Updated 1739 GMT (0139 HKT)
Shane O'Donoghue meets Ben Crenshaw who won his first of two Masters thirty years ago this month.
March 27, 2014 -- Updated 1300 GMT (2100 HKT)
They carry a bag for a living but these men can bring home six-figure incomes. Welcome to the world of a caddy.
CNN's Alex Thomas welcomes golf opening itself up to women, but questions the motives behind the decision.
ADVERTISEMENT