DUBLIN, Ohio – Rather than secure his fifth PGA Tour win Sunday at the Memorial, Rickie Fowler recorded his 10th career runner-up finish.
Playing alongside the champion Jason Dufner in the third-to-last group, Fowler made four birdies in his first 12 holes and had the lead to himself at 12 under par.
But he would make a mistake at the short par-4 14th, sailing his approach over the green. Barely able to hold the green with his pitch, Fowler made his first bogey of the day and surrendered his lead. A missed birdie putt at 15 and scrambling pars from over the back of the 16th and 17th greens left him two back with one to play, when the horn sounded, halting play a second time.
“I made a lot of really good swings,” Fowler said. “When the rain started coming in, the ball got a little wet and started to jump a little bit and go farther, and it’s hard to play for that. … The ball was going right where I wanted it to, and that’s why a couple of them were a little long in the back rough."
With Dufner in trouble right of the 18th fairway, Fowler had 77 minutes to think about his approach from the middle of the fairway to the back left pin. A birdie or a par seemed as though it could have potentially tied Dufner.
But Fowler tugged the wedge, missed the green, and made bogey, while Dufner improbably saved his par from 32 feet to win by three.
“It was just a little bit of a crosswind,” he said. “The ball above my feet, I just tugged it a bit there. I flew it a great number. Just a touch left there.”
The bogey at 18 and the round of 2-under 70 dropped Fowler from solo second into a tie with Anirban Lahiri.
Asked what his 10th career runner-up means to him, Fowler answered:
“You have to be there to get the job done, and it just shows you that a lot of the time that you don’t necessarily get the job done a high percentage of the time," he said. "You have to be in contention. The more you’re there, hopefully, the more that you’re going to win.”