PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Sometimes even a four-shot victory isn’t enough to silence the critics.
Rickie Fowler survived a tumultuous final round at the Honda Classic, where he won with room to spare despite a number of front-nine errors and a pair of closing bogeys. The victory is his first on the PGA Tour in more than a year, but it still left Golf Channel and NBC analyst Johnny Miller questioning Fowler’s ability to close.
“Obviously a win is a win, but you’ve got to learn to finish out Sundays like a true champion,” Miller said during the telecast. “He hasn’t learned how to do that yet.”
Fowler started the day with a four-shot lead, but he was only one shot clear after a watery double bogey on No. 6 and a bogey on No. 9. He added birdies at Nos. 12, 13 and 16 to build a five-shot advantage before finding the water on No. 17 and playing conservatively at the last.
The on-air criticism didn’t sit well with a couple of Fowler’s peers, who took to Twitter to share their thoughts on the matter:
Johnny still not impressed https://t.co/t6yMltdgqs— Rory McIlroy (@McIlroyRory) February 26, 2017
Rickie playing the last with a 5 shot lead and Johnnie Miller saying he's not sure what this will do for him as he didn't play that great— Luke Donald (@LukeDonald) February 26, 2017
As for Fowler, he took Miller’s comments in stride while addressing the media with the winner’s trophy at his feet.
“Well, I started with a four-shot lead and I still won by four,” Fowler said. “I didn’t play great. It wasn’t a pretty round. But we got the job done. A win’s a win.”