Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Fowler Finally Makes It Easy, Hits Big Putts to Earn Honda Classic Win

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Fowler Finally Makes It Easy, Hits Big Putts to Earn Honda Classic Win

Article excerpt

Staked to a four-shot lead, Fowler hit one putt into a sprinkler hole, hit a tee shot into the water and watched a big lead shrink to one over Gary Woodland early on the back nine. Fowler answered with consecutive birdie putts of 40 and 25 feet and closed with a 1-over 71 for a four-shot victory. "If I don't make those putts, I've got a pretty tight race, Fowler said.

Instead, those chasing him had the biggest problems with the closing stretch at PGA National.

Fowler effectively ended it with a shot over the water to the 3 feet that stretched his lead to five shots with two holes to play. Woodland appeared to have second place wrapped up until he three- putted the 17th, and then tried to lay up on the par-5 18th and came up short into the water. He closed with another bogey for a 69. He had to share second place the difference of $128,000 with Morgan Hoffmann, who missed a 4-foot birdie putt on the 18th.

PGA champion Jimmy Walker was lurking on the fringe of contention until tee shots into the water on the 15th and 17th holes, which cost him five shots.

Tyrrell Hatton of England, who played in the final group in his first PGA Tour event in Florida, was out of the picture quickly. He still had a chance to finish alone in second, which would have gone a long way toward securing a PGA Tour card, until missing a 3-foot birdie putt on the 17th.

Fowler even got into the act when it no longer mattered. He hit his tee shot into the water on the 17th hole and made bogey, then hit a wedge into the bunker on the 18th and closed with another bogey to finish at 12-under 268.

All that mattered was the trophy, the fourth of his PGA Tour career.

Fowler jokingly referred to it as a "small collection on Saturday evening, though it was important. He had gone 13 months and 25 starts worldwide without a victory as everyone around him was winning multiple times.

It was his first PGA Tour victory since the Deutsche Bank Championship in September 2015.

"I guess I can already plan on Hawaii for next year, Fowler said, referring to the Tournament of Champions at Kapalua. "I can relax a little bit. …

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