2017 Hero World Challenge leaderboard: Rickie Fowler earns title with 61 on Sunday
Fowler won his second PGA Tour event of 2017 on Sunday in the Bahamas
Rickie Fowler swooped in and stole the Hero World Challenge on Sunday with a 61 to beat third-round leader Charley Hoffman by four. Fowler went out in a stunning 28 and made three more birdies over the first six holes on the back nine, putting the 59 watch officially on.
Fowler closed par-par-par for a "disappointing" 61, which is a new course and tournament record as well as a personal best for him as a pro on the PGA Tour. He easily took home a tournament that included eight of the top 10 players in the world and a reinvigorated Tiger Woods, who finished T9.
Fowler birdied his first seven holes, using just six putts.
"I was trying to stay as calm as possible and trying to stay in the moment and make sure I was going through my process," Fowler told Golf Channel's Steve Sands. "Not getting ahead of myself. Seven was the most I had made before. I was really trying to get that eighth. I knew I needed to get off to a quick start today to at least show Charlie I was there and get up there on the board a little bit. We took care of that and kept it rolling from there."
As for the 59 that seemed like a real possibility for a while on the back nine, Fowler said he was thinking about it, but didn't seem overwhelmed by the moment.
"I knew it was at least within reach," Fowler said to Golf Channel. "I'm just happy with playing solid on the back nine, making some good swings, stepping up on 16-18 which are some tougher finishing holes out here. I hit the shots I wanted to (on the final few holes)."
The spotlight all week was on Woods all week, with good reason. But Fowler grabbed it at the very end with the performance of the event. His 61 was the round of the week by two strokes next to Hoffman's 63 in Round 2. It was the round of the day on Sunday by six strokes.
It also upstaged his new pal and tournament host Woods.
"It's cool (to win Tiger's tournament)," he said. "To have the handful of rounds that we got to play together in the last couple months. We had some good times on the golf course. It would have been fun if we had been paired together. I was looking forward to him getting out here. I knew (what he had been doing) was going to be good enough to surprise a lot of people. I'm definitely happy for him."
For Fowler, it's a nice end to a year that included a win at the Honda Classic and 11 top-10 finishes, including two at major championships (U.S. Open and PGA Championship).
It might also be a springboard into 2018. Three years ago, Jordan Spieth used a December win at this tournament as momentum into 2015 when he won the Masters, the U.S. Open and nearly won The Open Championship.
"This time of year ... I knew the game was still hanging around where we were for the year," said Fowler after probably the most consistent year of his career. "To come here after some time off ... I knew coming here I was going to have to rely on our year and how we played in Mexico (runner up). It's nice to see the game hang around and that we can build on some things and make next year a special one."
Whatever the case, what Fowler did on Sunday in the Bahamas was an impressive ending to 2017. We won't see most of these golfers until 2018, and between Fowler's scintillating Round 4 and Woods' successful week, you have about a million reasons to be jacked up for golf in the next calendar year.
Thanks for joining us.
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