‘Over-rated’ Fowler wins Players Championship playoff

American golfing heart-throb Rickie Fowler took a huge step towards a first Major Championship success with his play-off victory in the Players Championship.

Fowler denied TPC Sawgrass rookie and fellow American Kevin Kisner holing a five-foot birdie at the fourth extra hole, the par three 17th, and his third birdie of the day at the famed island green.

Rickie Fowler Rickie Fowler (Credit: www.golffile.ie)

Indeed, Fowler was 10-under par for the last eight holes having played the closing six during regulation in six under par and then birdied the 17th twice in the play-off.

The 25-year-old Fowler collected the biggest prize cheque of his career a cool US$1.8m, and a victory to re-ignite his rivalry with World No. 1 Rory McIlroy, who posted a final day 70 to share eighth place.

Fowler’s triumph comes on the back of being tagged as the most over-rated golfer on tour alongside Ian Poulter. The unofficial survey of PGA Tour players earnt both players 24 per cent of the vote.

The always amiable Fowler laughed off the results before heading into this week’s tournament.

“I guess top-fives in four majors aren’t that good,” he said. “Like I said, I’ll take care of my business and I’ll be just fine.”

It is Fowler’s second PGA Tour triumph and comes three years after capturing the 2012 Wells Fargo Championship.

“I’ve waited a long time for this, to get back into the winner’s circle. This is now my favourite event of the year. It was great fun and it’s been a great afternoon. I felt really good all week and while I struggled with fairways and greens this week, I gained a lot of confidence playing last week.”

Fowler, Kisner and Spain’s Sergio Garcia had ended regulation play locked at 12-under par with Fowler first into the clubhouse completing his last six holes in a sizzling six under par including a 16th hole eagle in a round of 67.

Garcia tied Fowler after birdies at the 16th and 17th for a score of 68 before Kisner also birdied 16 and 17 in a round of 69 to send the US$10m event into a first-ever three-hole play-off over the last three holes.

In the play-off, the trio finished all-square at the par five 16th before Fowler and Kisner birdied the 17th while Garcia walked off with par.

And when all three parred the last, it meant Garcia’s chances had ended for this week.

In fact, Garcia could look back to Friday’s indifferent round of 72 with the frustrated 35-year old snapping his putter in half and tossing the remains in a clubhouse garbage bin.

He said: “It was a solid week and considering the way I putted the first three days, it’s been another great week for me at the Players.”

Fowler and Kisner then were moved back to the 17th where Fowler sealed success.

McIlroy was frustrated after posting his third straight Players top-10 but will enjoy returning to the Wells Fargo tournament where he savoured his first PGA Tour triumph in 2010.

“My game is right there and I am expecting a week if I hole putts then I will be in winning position,” said McIlroy.

“But then I am leaving Sawgrass frustrated again and it’s that sort of golf course and you look at the scores and I am only three behind the leader with no one going low.”

“So that’s why I am coming off the course frustrated in feeling I have left five to 10 shots out there this week.”

“But then ball-striking wise I am really happy where I am tee to green and I am in a very good place going into the summer.”

Tiger Woods continues to struggle shooting a final day 72 for a three over par tally and a share of 69th place – his poorest in 16 appearances at the Players.

John Senden continued his good form with a T8 finish and just four strokes off the pace. Marc Leishman and Geoff Ogilvy were the next best of the Aussies in a tie for 24th with Adam Scott slumping almost 20 places following a final round 75.

Robert Allenby closed his tournament in 56th place.