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Wells Fargo Championship @ Quail Hollow, Rickie Fowler Wins

       

Carolina orange

Lecka/Getty Image

Rickie Fowler won the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow in a three way playoff  against  Rory McIlroy and D.A. Points. All three players had finished the final round with a tournament total of -14 under par. Webb Simpson had an opportunity to join them in the playoff  but missed his birdie attempt on the last green.

On the first extra hole Rickie played a fabulous 51-degree wedge to within four feet of the 18th green flagstick, and held his nerve to sink the winning putt.  It was his first PGA TOUR win in his 67th start as a pro, bringing him a 500-point FedEx Cup points that pushed him to No. 15 in the latest standings. He said of his amazing approach shot;

“I didn’t want to play it safe. I had a good number, and I was aiming right of the hole with the wind coming out of the right, and if I hit a perfect shot, it comes down right on the stick. I hit a perfect shot at the right time, and I was going for it. “It’s awesome. It’s a long wait, but well worth it. Told you it was coming. It’s a good feeling right now. Definitely some relief, satisfaction. I’m definitely happy. It’s not a bad thing, winning. It’s kind of fun.”

He also said he enjoyed the rivalry with Rory;

“I’m looking forward to playing with Rory for a long time.”

Rory returned to No. 1 in the world with this performance at Quail Hollow, he finished tied for second with D.A. Points. Rory was impressed with Rickie’s birdie at the 18th in the playoff;

“You wouldn’t call the 18th today a birdie hole with that pin, For Rickie to go out and play that hole the way he did, he deserved to win. I think it was just a matter of time before he won”

Webb Simpson and Ryan Moore, who started the day in the final pairing, both failed to shine. Webb did have that missed opportunity to join the playoff, but too many mistakes on the day cost the local boy his chance. Ryan fell back into a tie for fifth place with Lee Westwood. Lee suffered again from a slow start in this tournament, it seems to becoming a bad habit of his.

Nick Watney failed to capitalize on a good start to this tournament, finishing his final round with a score of  74 and at -10 under par was four shots off the leaders.

Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy has only played four competitive rounds in 50 odd days, that was at the Masters, where his highly promising halfway position was squandered over a miserable weekend that left him tied for 40th place.

Rory has stated that  he plays his best golf when at his freshest and certainly there can be no excuse for golf fatigue as he heads into the meat of the 2012 season. The reigning US Open Champion was four shots clear of the field at the Masters before imploding on the back nine on the Sunday final round. That left Bubba Watson and Louis Oosthuizen to battle it out in a playoff, which Bubba won, thanks to that magical shot.

Rory McIlroy

Photo: Getty

Rory’s  relatively light early season schedule has been designed to make sure he has plenty in the tank for a more hectic remainder of the year. So this week it is perhaps unfair, or unreasonable to expect the kind of fireworks at Quail Hollow we witnessed from him two years ago when he closed with a round of 62, to win by four strokes and land his maiden PGA Tour title. If the scheduling is correct it will  build nicely up to his US Open defence in June. After the Players’ he has a week’s break before the  schedule building up to his US Open defence in June looks spot on. After the Players’ he has a week’s break before the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, where Luke Donald is the defending champion. It is also the tournament where Luke became the Worlds number one, so we can look forward to a wonderful battle between Rory and Luke at Wentworth.

All players have varying approaches to scheduling, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are very much in the selective McIlroy mould.    So is Luke Donald, who just like the man he has recently displaced as world number one, has all  the added pressure of fulfilling the minimum requirements of the PGA and European Tours.

Each to his own, it is all about finding what works best for each player and Rory is sure he is close to the correct formula. His results suggest as much, but I guess time will tell. I look forward to the coming weeks in anticipation.

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