PALM BEACH GARDENS – (Special to Digital Sports Desk by The Sports Xchange) – Rickie Fowler overcame having a putt roll into a sprinkler hole, and he held on for a four-shot win Sunday in the Honda Classic at Palm Beach Gardens Fla. After taking a four-stroke edge into the final round on the Champion Course at PGA National, Fowler was up by just one shot on Gary Woodland through 11 holes Sunday. However, Fowler sank birdie putts on consecutive par-4 holes, No. 12 and No. 13, giving himself a safer edge.
Following a birdie at No. 16, Fowler closed with two bogeys for a 1-over-par 71 and a total of 12-under 268. Woodland carded a 69 to tie for second with Morgan Hoffmann at 272. Hoffmann shot a final-round 68.
“I knew I had a bit of a lead,” Fowler said of his shaky finish. “It’s nice to have a cushion when you are playing the last two holes.”
Fowler said the Sunday round was not easy.
“To go from yesterday, where it was pretty chill out here, not a whole lot of breeze, and good conditions to just go hit golf shots and pick this golf course apart, today was completely different, a lot of crosswinds,” he said. “This was a tough wind to play this golf course in. And I felt like I hit some good shots that got just on the wrong side of the wind and didn’t come back like I was expecting.
“So it made it look a lot worse than it was, but luckily had a decent lead going out today and then my putter really saved me (one some holes), just to kind of give myself enough cushion.”
The victory was Fowler’s fourth on the PGA Tour but his first since the Deutsche Bank Championship in September 2015. However, he won a European PGA Tour event last year, the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.
The most bizarre moment of Fowler’s round came at the fourth hole. Putting from the fringe to right of the green, Fowler rolled his ball into a sprinkler hole. He signaled that the veered left on him after thinking he could get past the obstacle on the right.
Fowler subsequently double-bogeyed the sixth hole to give hope to the chasing pack before recovering with a birdie at No. 8. However, he followed with a bogey to finish the front nine.
Woodland was 2 under par for the day before he also bogeyed No. 9. He added two more birdies early on the back nine, but like Fowler, bogeyed each of the last two holes.
“I gave myself a lot of chances. Just didn’t get the putts to come in down the stretch,” Woodland said. “But obviously Rickie is playing some great golf. So happy with the way I’m playing and looking forward to next week.”
Hoffmann had the steadiest round of the three, making three birdies and just one bogey.
Venezuela’s Jhonattan Vegas shot the best round of the day, 64, to tie for fourth place at 273. Billy Horschel (final-round 68), Chad Collins (69), Wesley Bryan (70), Germany’s Martin Kaymer (70) and England’s Tyrrell Hatton (70) also wound up at 273.
Canada’s Graham DeLaet grabbed 10th place at 274 following a 70