What we learned: Wells Fargo


Each week, the GolfChannel.com team offers thoughts on 'what we learned' from the most recent events and news developments. This week we learned a lot about Rickie Fowler, who grew up before our eyes with his first PGA Tour victory at Quail Hollow.

I learned that Rickie Fowler is 23 years old. Seriously. With all the expectations heaped on him the past three years I thought he was pushing 30. With most of the golf world wondering when the dude was going to win on the PGA Tour for the first time, I thought time was running out. I didn't think he had much of a window left. Now that I know he's 23, I'm glad to see he has more time to collect more victories than I originally thought. – Jay Coffin

I learned that those of us who have been preaching Life After Tiger won’t lead to the eventual demise of the game were once again proven right on Sunday. Yes, Woods has helped bring untold amounts of riches to his peers. And no, I don’t think he is “done” just because he missed a cut for the eighth time in his career. But Rickie Fowler’s victory in a three-man playoff that included fellow 23-year-old Rory McIlroy should discredit any notion that some 500 years after the game was born in Scottish fields, it will cease to survive without one of its greatest all-time players. The current state of golf is eminently healthy, with a cornucopia of impressive – and largely youthful – champions so far this season. Those declaring, “The end is nigh!” in 19th holes around the world should officially give up the cause. – Jason Sobel

In a world of the 24/7 news cycle, 140-character quips and WiFi hot spots at 10,000 feet, we are far too concerned with instant gratification.

Rickie Fowler turned professional in 2009 and in only his second event –the Frys.com Open at Grayhawk in Scottsdale, Ariz. – he finished T-2 after losing in a three-way playoff to Troy Matteson. Three years later, Fowler nabbed his first Tour victory, but has been scrutinized every step of the way.

The kid’s only 23 and he has a lifetime of good golf to play. We should cut the kid some slack and hope this is a preview of more Rory vs. Rickie Sundays to come. - Bailey Mosier

I learned sometimes groups take time to gel. The Golf Boys came out with their first single at Congressional last year for the U.S. Open. Frankly, it stunk. The bomb of a track hurt their collective performance for months until Ben Crane beat Webb Simpson in a playoff for the McGladrey Classic. Almost seven months later, all four members of the band have won on the PGA Tour. 

Bubba Watson won the Masters. Hunter Mahan won the WGC-Accenture Match Play and the Shell Houston Open. Now, Rickie Fowler has won the Wells Fargo Championship in addition to winning the Korea Open last fall. Collectively, they have five PGA Tour wins in that stretch.

La-le, la-le, indeed. – Ryan Ballengee

I learned Rickie Fowler is playing in a different league now.

You don’t beat a world-class field on a golf course as demanding as Quail Hollow without all the makings of an elite player. You don’t birdie Quail Hollow’s treacherous 18th hole in a playoff without the kind of skill and confidence it takes to win a lot more big events, including majors. You don’t outplay Rory McIlroy when he’s on his game, on a golf course where he has won before, without a belief that goes beyond Wells Fargo.

The folks who thought Fowler would never live up to “the hype” surrounding him probably won’t be convinced by one PGA Tour title, but a legion of Fowler fans, including all the new fans he won Sunday, are relishing this bright young face’s breakthrough. He’s good for the game. So is fellow 23-year-old McIlroy. If they’re the future of golf, if they’re leading the game’s changing of the guard, golf is in good hands. These two have more than big games. They’ve got big-time personalities and stories to tell. They’ve also got the big-picture perspective and class it takes to keep the game in a good place. – Randall Mell

That the Official World Golf Ranking may have it right after all considering that Rory McIlroy returned from a three-week break and came within a missed 16 footer at the 72nd hole of winning his second title of 2012 and his second Wells Fargo Championship.

He didn’t get the win, but his runner-up finish pushed him past Luke Donald to the No. 1 spot.

And that Sean Foley was correct when he figured following Tiger Woods’ five-stroke victory at Bay Hill earlier this year that the swing was only “50 percent” to where it needed to be. At Quail Hollow, where Woods missed the cut, Tiger still looked like a work in progress. – Rex Hoggard

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