PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. (AP) Nothing was overrated about Rickie Fowler at The Players Championship.
Not the way he rallied from a five-shot deficit with the greatest finish in the 34-year history of the TPC Sawgrass. Not the two tee shots he smashed down the daunting 18th fairway Sunday when a miss to the left or right spelled trouble. And certainly not the three tee shots – yes, three – he stuffed on the island-green 17th hole for birdie each time.
The last one made him a winner, the best answer to that anonymous player survey that he was an underachiever. At a tournament that dresses up like a major, Fowler sure looked the part in beating the strongest field in golf.
Fowler’s record-setting finish – birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie on the last four holes for a 5-under 67 – looked like a winner until Sergio Garcia and Kevin Kisner delivered big shots of their own.
In the first three-hole playoff at The Players, Kisner hit his tee shot on the par-3 17th to 10 feet and rolled in a breaking birdie putt to keep pace with Fowler, who had hit his tee shot to 6 feet and converted the birdie. Garcia, who in regulation made a 45-foot birdie to give him new life, failed to repeat the putt from about the same range in the playoff. All three players made par on the final hole, which eliminated Garcia.
Fowler and Kisner, who closed with a 69 and is now 0 for 102 in his PGA Tour career, headed back to the 17th hole for the third time. The great shots kept coming. Kisner barely cleared the mound and the ball settled 12 feet away. Fowler answered by taking on the right side of the green and sticking it just inside 5 feet.
Kisner finally missed.
Fowler never seemed to miss over the final two hours, and he calmly clutched his fist to celebrate his first PGA Tour victory in three years.
BEL OMBRE, Mauritius (AP) – South Africa’s George Coetzee won the Mauritius Open for his second European Tour victory of the season, beating Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen on the second hole of a playoff.
Coetzee had three straight birdies on the par-5 18th hole at Heritage Golf Club – one in regulation for a 2-under 69 and two in the playoff.
The highest-ranked player in the field at No. 63, Coetzee won the Tshwane Open in South Africa in March. He had three career European Tour titles.
Olesen finished with a 68 in the event also sanctioned by the Asian and Sunshine tours.
SHANGHAI (AP) – China’s Shanshan Feng won the Ladies European Tour’s Buick Championship by six strokes at Shanghai Qizhong Garden.
Feng closed with a 2-under 70 in windy conditions to finish at 17-under 271. She’s projected to jump from fifth to fourth in the world ranking.
South Korea’s Hyeon So Kang was second after a 69.
SELF REGIONAL HEALTHCARE FOUNDATION WOMEN’S HEALTH CLASSIC
GREENWOOD, S.C. (AP) – Mexico’s Alejandra Llaneza birdied the final hole for a one-stroke victory in the Symetra Tour’s Self Regional Healthcare Foundation Women’s Health Classic.
The 26-year-old Llaneza is the third Mexican winner in Symetra Tour history, following Lorena Ochoa and Violeta Retamoza. Ochoa won three times in 2002, and Retamoza had a victory in 2007.
Llaneza closed with a 1-under 71 for a 10-under 278 total at the Links at Stoney Point. She earned $30,000 to jump from 26th to first on the money list with $35,969. The top 10 at the end of the season will earn 2016 LPGA Tour cards. Casey Grice was second after a 70.