Rickie Fowler overcomes big mistakes to snatch two-shot win in Phoenix


Rickie Fowler endured a roller-coaster back-nine before stumbling over the line to pip Branden Grace to the Waste Management Phoenix Open title after a final-round of high drama at TPC Scottsdale.

Fowler was cruising to his first win for almost two years as he held a five-shot advantage despite being one over for the day after 10 holes, but the tournament turned on its head in the space of two holes as Fowler triple-bogeyed 11 and bogeyed 12 just as Grace made back-to-back birdies to snatch the lead.

But Fowler regrouped to birdie the 15th and 17th while Grace drove into water at the penultimate hole, and the popular American scrambled a par at the last to complete a three-over 74 which proved enough for a two-shot win and his fifth PGA Tour title.

The fan favourite started the final day with a four-shot advantage over the field, but the wet and cool conditions made for tough scoring and Fowler soon opened the door for the chasing pack when he made a mess of the fifth hole, taking five shots to get on the green before holing from five feet for a double-bogey.

But with playing-partners Justin Thomas and Matt Kuchar unable to mount a significant challenge, Fowler steadied himself with a run of four pars before making his first birdie of the round at the 10th, only for his title hopes to unravel in a series of bizarre incidents around the 11th green.

Fowler blocked his approach to the par-four but faced a routine chip to get up-and-down to save his par, only to over-hit his pitch and watch on in bemusement as his ball rolled past the pin and down the slope, just missing the bunker before disappearing into the water.

And, just as Grace drained a monster birdie putt from 50 feet up ahead on the 12th green, Fowler suffered a huge slice of misfortune when he took his drop near the hazard, wandered up the slope to survey the green, and looked back as his ball rolled back into the water once again.

Fowler’s honesty prevailed as he admitted he was satisfied his ball was stationary after he picked up his tees, thus incurring another one-stroke penalty which left him still looking at a tough pitch for his sixth shot, although he was up to the task as he clipped to 15 feet and held his nerve to hole the putt to limit the damage to a triple-bogey seven.

A wild tee-shot cost him another shot at the short 12th just as Grace made a good four at the par-five 13th, the South African suddenly finding himself in possession of the outright lead having been five behind Fowler 10 minutes earlier.

But Grace was unable to go at the 15th green in two after pushing his drive into trouble, and Fowler followed up a good drive with a solid second to the heart of the putting surface to set up a priceless two-putt birdie which lifted him back into a share of the lead on 16 under.

Grace was determined to pile on the pressure at the driveable par-four 17th, but he tugged his tee-shot into the drink and then thinned a pitch into the rear bunker before getting up-and-down for bogey.

And with Grace also struggling to save par at 18, Fowler seized his chance with a superb drive which found the front of the green and, although his eagle putt pulled up eight feet short, he made no mistake with his second jab and he could enjoy the luxury of a two-shot lead heading up the last.

Grace came within a whisker of holing a chip for birdie and settled for a tap-in for par and a round of 69, but Fowler still managed to make his task difficult when a pulled drive ended up in the thick rough that separated the bunkers down the left.

But after gouging his second back to short grass, Fowler pitched to five feet and stroked home the winning putt to claim the title two years after losing out to Hideki Matsuyama at the fourth extra hole.

Thomas won the race for third as a birdie-birdie finish added up to a 72 and a final score of 14 under, while Kuchar bogeyed two of the last three holes to complete an erratic 75 which left him in a share of fourth with Bubba Watson and Chez Reavie.

(c) Sky News 2019: Rickie Fowler overcomes big mistakes to snatch two-shot win in Phoenix

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