Fowler: Practice rounds with Phil helped me win Players


DUBLIN, Ohio – In the four weeks since he captured The Players Championship, Rickie Fowler has had plenty of time to reflect on the biggest win of his career.

Fowler played the final six holes of regulation at TPC Sawgrass in 6 under, then defeated Sergio Garcia and Kevin Kisner in a playoff. After a T-30 finish last week at the Irish Open, he is making his first PGA Tour start as a Players champion this week at the Memorial.

So what propelled Fowler, who had gone nearly three years without a victory, to his instant-classic finish? How about the hours he has logged in high-stakes practice rounds with a certain five-time major champ?

“In the end of regulation into the playoff, I was thinking back to times when we’ve had games with Phil [Mickelson],” Fowler said. “Tuesday games and being in situations where, maybe my partner is out of the hole and having to step up and make birdie there, or I’m trying to birdie the last few holes to flip a match.

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“Those matches and situations definitely have helped me when it comes to that time, and having me at that time look back for something to pull on.”

Fowler finished eagle-birdie-birdie on the Stadium Course, then played four additional holes in 2 under to outlast Kisner. He returns this week to a course where he finished second in 2010 and contended again in 2012 before a final-round 84.

Having left any shred of an “overrated” label in his wake at the Players, Fowler is looking to build upon the experience he gained at TPC Sawgrass.

“It was definitely something I look back on, knowing the situation that I was in and how comfortable and confident I felt,” he said. “A lot of times it may come down to one or two swings under that kind of pressure or situation. I had to keep going up against it.”