Published November 20, 2014
Rickie Fowler birdied the first playoff hole Sunday to earn his first PGA Tour win at the Wells Fargo Championship.
Fowler got into the clubhouse first at 14-under-par 274 thanks to a final- round, three-under 69. D.A. Points and Rory McIlroy played together in the penultimate group on Sunday.
Points dropped the first shot of his round at the 18th to card a one-under 71. McIlroy posted a two-under 70 as they both finished alongside Fowler at minus-14.
Third-round leader Webb Simpson (73) had a chance to join the playoff, but missed a 23-foot birdie putt on the final hole of regulation to end alone in fourth at 13-under-par 275 at Quail Hollow.
In the extra session, all three players found the fairway off the tee. Points, playing first, hit his approach about 40 feet past the stick. Fowler then stuffed his second shot to four feet. McIlroy's shot stayed well right of the hole.
Points rolled his birdie try well past the hole. McIlroy did the same. Both players converted their par putts, Points from 12 feet and McIlroy from five feet.
Fowler then drained his four-footer for birdie and the victory.
"You know, I've been looking forward to playing against Rory for a long time. D.A. is a good buddy of mine, great guy and it's all good to make birdie here," Fowler said in a televised interview. "It's awesome. It's been a long wait, but well worth it."
All was not lost for McIlroy, who will again supplant Luke Donald as the top- ranked player in the world when the new rankings come out on Monday.
Fowler bogeyed the second, but came back with a birdie on the fifth. He birdied No. 7 and made it two in a row with a birdie on the eighth. After dropping a shot on the ninth, Fowler birdied No. 10 to get to 13-under.
The 23-year-old ran home a 17-footer for birdie on the 12th to join Points in the lead at minus-14. Fowler briefly grabbed the lead with a three-foot birdie putt at the 15th. However, he went bunker to bunker on the 16th and failed to save par.
Fowler parred the final two holes to get in at minus-14.
"I hit some good shots coming in. I thought I hit a good shot on 18 in regulation, it just took quite a big hop. I didn't think it was going to wind up that far behind the hole, which ended up helping us in the playoff," Fowler stated. "I ended up playing it a bit differently and it worked out alright."
Points birdied the second from just inside six feet to grab a share of the lead at 14-under. He ran off 12 consecutive pars from the third and was anywhere from down one to ahead one during that run.
McIlroy followed a birdie on the second with bogeys on three and four. He got those strokes back with back-to-back birdies at seven and eight to get within one of Points.
The reigning U.S. Open champion birdied the 10th, but dropped a shot at the next. McIlroy got up and down for birdie on the short par-five 14th, then two- putted for birdie on 15 to join Points and Fowler in the lead.
Points ended his long par run with a three-footer for birdie at 15.
After Fowler got in at minus-14, McIlroy fell back to that number with a bogey at 17 after he missed the green.
That left it to Points, who hadn't made a bogey in 40 holes. At the last, his approach found a greenside bunker. Points blasted to 21 feet and two-putted for bogey to force the three-way playoff.
"I played solid all week. I played solid today. You know, 18 is a hard hole. To bogey that hole, I'd never feel bad about that because it's a hard, hard hole," Points said in a TV interview. "All in all, I drove it well, I played real smart. I made a couple key up and downs when I needed."
Simpson birdied the fifth to get to 15-under, but he carded three bogeys in the next six holes to slide to 12-under. He nearly came back with birdies on 14 and 15, but another bogey at 16 cost him a spot in the playoff.
Lee Westwood fired a six-under 66 for the low round of the day. He shared fifth place at 11-under-par 277 with Ben Curtis (67) and Ryan Moore (74). Nick Watney closed with a two-over 74 to take eighth at minus-10.
NOTES: Fowler earned $1.17 million for the win...Fowler joins McIlroy and Anthony Kim as those that made this their first tour victory...With Simpson failing to win, only three of 10 54-hole leaders at this event have gone on to win the title...The PGA Tour heads to Florida next week for The Players Championship, where K.J. Choi is the defending champion.