Fowler closes deal, wins Honda Classic by four strokes
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[February 27, 2017]
(Reuters) - American Rickie
Fowler breathed a sigh of relief after clinching a four-stroke
victory at the $6.4 million Honda Classic in Florida on Sunday.
Fowler, previously 0-for-4 after starting the final round leading on
the PGA Tour, frittered away almost all of his four-stroke advantage
on a breezy day at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens.
But he steadied a leaky ship by sinking consecutive long birdie
putts, a 40-footer at the 12th hole followed by a 25-footer at the
next, and extended his lead to five strokes with two holes left.
"My putter saved me," Fowler, 28, said in a greenside interview
after carding 71 to finish at 12-under-par 268 for his fourth PGA
Tour victory. He also has won three times internationally.
"I made some good putts. The two birdies I made on 12 and 13, if I
donít make those putts Iíve got a pretty tight race."
Fowler gave his adoring gallery a moment of panic when he leaked his
seven-iron tee shot into a water hazard at the par-three 17th.
But after taking a penalty stroke, he calmly negotiated the water
with his third shot and sank a six-foot putt to salvage a bogey,
before taking a victory stroll down the last, where another bogey
proved almost meaningless.
"The wind was tough today," said Fowler. "I fought as hard as I
could. I hit a lot of shots I thought were going to turn out good
(but did not). It was blowing pretty good, so kept us on our toes."
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Rickie Fowler celebrates with the trophy after winning The Honda
Classic at PGA National (Champion). Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA
Fellow Americans Gary Woodland and Morgan Hoffmann
tied for second on eight-under, but the day belonged to one man, who
will head to the Masters in April with a new spring in his step.
"Thereís less pressure, less stress," said Fowler, who will jump
from 14th in the world rankings to inside the top 10.
"I think this is something we needed going into Augusta and I like
the spot were weíre at right now."
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Simon
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