Phoenix Open Recap: Fowler Wins Despite Late Struggles
Phoenix Open Recap: Fowler Wins Despite Late Struggles

This article is part of our Weekly Recap series.

Three years ago, Rickie Fowler came to the Waste Management Phoenix Open with his career arrow pointing straight up. He exited in tears.

On Sunday, it almost happened again.

Fowler kicked away a five-stroke lead on the back nine but recovered for a whiplash-like two-shot win over Branden Grace at rainy TPC Scottsdale. He took a bizarre triple-bogey on No. 11, after a double-bogey earlier in the round, but somehow survived with a 3-over-74 round to finally close the deal at his personal house of horrors. Fowler became the first golfer since 1983 to shoot a double and a triple in the final round of a PGA Tour event and still win.

At the 2016 WMPO, Fowler was this close to a fifth worldwide win in ninth months, seemingly on a path of finally becoming the golfer so many had expected him to become.

Instead, Fowler blew a two-stroke lead with two holes to play. What made the loss especially painful was that he was trying to win for the first time with his father and grandfather in attendance. It was Yutaka Tanaka, "Grandpa," who had introduced three-year-old Rickie to the game of golf.

Fowler had never really recovered from that fateful day in the desert, even though he had a chance a year ago at the WMPO. He again held a 54-hole lead but couldn't even finish in the top-10. Fowler had won only once more in those three years, had fallen from a career-best fourth in the world

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Len Hochberg
Hochberg covers golf for RotoWire. A veteran sports journalist, he contributes to Sports on Earth and was an editor and reporter at The Washington Post for many years.
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