PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – The infamous 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass has been separating winners from losers for years at The Players Championship, but rarely if ever has there been a performance like the one Rickie Fowler authored on the hole this week.
Fowler birdied the 137-yard hole two of the first three days, then made three straight 2s during Sunday’s final round: first in regulation during a torrid finish to his round, then twice more in the event’s first-ever aggregate playoff. The final birdie – his fifth in six trips to the hole this week – clinched the biggest win of his career.
“I had a great number there on 17. I was able to just hit a choke-down gap wedge,” Fowler said. “It played a little longer in the playoff the two times, but just had a good number. I’ve always liked playing 17, it’s been good to me. I played it well all week.”
Fowler wasn’t exactly dropping birdie putts from long range, either. His tee shot in regulation ended up less than 7 feet away, while his shot during the three-hole aggregate was a foot closer. He closed out Kevin Kisner on the fourth extra hole after his third attempt ended up less than 5 feet away.
This was the third time in the last seven years that the tournament ended on No. 17. Sergio Garcia, the third member of this year’s aggregate playoff, beat Paul Goydos with a birdie in 2008, while K.J. Choi won the tournament in 2011 with a par to defeat David Toms.