Many were ready to hand the trophy to Charley Hoffman after three days of the Hero World Challenge. An outstanding round was going to be needed to catch him at the tournament based in Albany, Bahamas. Rickie Fowler delivered just that.
The twenty-eight year-old injected another level of life into the tournament, layering on top of what tournament host Tiger Woods was creating by his return to competitive golf.
While Woods was drawing the attention of many golf fans (Golf Channel and NBC saw record numbers of viewership in the early rounds), Fowler turned the spotlight on himself by opening the final round with seven straight birdies. It was exactly the margin he trailed Hoffman by headed into the day.
After turning in 28 strokes, Fowler, with the help of new Cobra KING F8+ woods, and a very efficient putting stroke, cruised his way to a course record round of 61, 11-under-par, to win the $3.5 million purse unofficial event at -18 total.
Hoffman settled for second place at -14, which included his final round 72, even par.
Another two strokes back, in a tie for third, were Jordan Spieth and Tommy Fleetwood, who will stick around to get married at Albany on Tuesday.
“I knew I needed to get off to a quick start to show Charley I was there and get up the leaderboard,” Fowler commented afterward. “We took care of that and kind of kept it rolling from there.”
Fowler posed afterwards with host and 5-time winner Tiger Woods, who, as mentioned, was the centre of attention for most of the day. For the week, in fact.
Woods, completing just his second 72-hole event in 833 days after multiple back surgeries interrupted his career, was not a factor in the end but showed some nice form.
Despite a hard lip out on a short putt on the last hole, Woods managed to post -8 for the week, including rounds of 69, 68, 75, and 68. That earned him a share of 9th place and saw him better a list of players that included 2017 Player of the Year Justin Thomas and current World #1 ranked player, Dustin Johnson.
“I knew I was going to be able to play all four rounds, that wasn’t going to be an issue,” said Woods who offered that he felt no pain in his fused back during the week. “The issue was scoring. I drove it pretty well and made some good putts. Overall, I’m pretty pleased.”
Details of the COBRA Golf Clubs in Fowler’s bag here: (Courtesy of Cobra Golf)
Driver: KING F8+ Nardo | 8 degrees | 12g weight in front | Aldila NV 2K Blue 70x | 43.5in
3 Wood: KING F8+ 3W | 13 degrees | Aldila Synergy 70X | 42in
5 Wood: KING F8+ Baffler 5W | 17.5 degrees | Aldila Synergy 70X | 40.5in
Irons: KING Forged MB Irons (4-P) | KBS Tour C-Taper S+ 125
Wedges: KING V-Grind | 52°, 56°, 60° | True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400
Rickie Fowler uses a Scotty Cameron by Titleist Newport 2 GSS Prototype