Two weeks after faltering down the stretch at the U.S. Open, Rickie Fowler couldn’t have been more clutch Sunday at Detroit Golf Club at the 2023 Rocket Mortgage Classic.
Down a stroke on the final hole, Fowler birdied the 72nd hole of the tournament to force a playoff with Collin Morikawa and Adam Hadwin. Then when replaying 18 as the first playoff hole, Fowler birdied it again to win his first PGA Tour event since the 2019 WM Phoenix Open.
“It’s just nice to have this one out of the way,” Fowler said after winning for the first time in four years. “I’m obviously going to soak this one in and celebrate a bit. Yeah, it’s just been a long road.”
While it has been 96 tournaments since Fowler last lifted a trophy, this win was no fluke. He was one of the favorites coming in at +1200, and we backed him in our pre-tournament picks. Despite the disappointing fifth-place finish two weeks ago at the U.S. Open, Fowler came into this weekend with four straight top-15 finishes.
It’s been a rapid return to glory for Fowler, who barely qualified for the FedEx Cup playoffs last year and was ranked No. 185 in the world in September. Changes at caddie and swing coach led to immediate dividends, as he finished second at the ZOZO Championship in October. This was his sixth win in his career and places him in line for a return to the U.S. Ryder Cup team after missing out in 2021. He’s expected to jump to 23rd in the Official World Golf Ranking—a 162-place jump from just 10 months ago.
“I knew it was just a matter of time with how I’ve been playing,” Fowler said. “I’ve had a couple tough weekends where I’ve had a chance and didn’t get it done. But at the end of the day, getting to hold [my daughter] – yeah, winning’s great, but there’s a lot more to life than that.”
For Morikawa, he nearly ended his two-year win drought after winning the Claret Jug at the 2021 Open Championship. After shooting a 64 on Sunday to reach the playoff at 24-under par, Morikawa’s second shot on the par-4 18th hole landed just past the green, handing the playoff advantage to Fowler.
“Winning’s everything,” Morikawa said. “We’re going to go fight for it, we’re going to go earn it somehow come the rest of the season.”
After Hadwin fell short in the playoff, he was a bit more optimistic than Morikawa was. This marked the Canadian’s second runner-up finish of the season.
“I’m through the roof right now,” said Hadwin, whose only win came in 2017. “I mean, I got myself into a playoff at the end of the day, that’s what you want. You want a chance; you want a chance to win a golf tournament.”
The John Deere Classic in Silvis, Illinois is next on the schedule before the tour heads overseas for the Genesis Scottish Open and the Open Championship. Due to that trip, only nine of the world’s top 50 are competing this week. J.T. Poston is the defending champion.