Rickie Fowler wins Rocket Mortgage Classic for first victory in 4 years

Rickie Fowler of the United States celebrates with his caddie, Ricky Romano, on the 18th green after winning on the first playoff hole during the final round of the Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club on July 02, 2023 in Detroit, Michigan.

Rickie Fowler ended a four-plus year winless drought Sunday.

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For the past four years, Rickie Fowler has been waiting.

As one of the most popular players on Tour — both among other pros and fans — Fowler makes it a point to wait around the 18th green to be one of the first to congratulate a new winner.

He’s done it more than a dozen times since his last victory.

Two weeks ago at the U.S. Open, Fowler waited again. Playing in the final pairing alongside Wyndham Clark on Sunday, he watched his buddy earn his first major victory. Fowler was one of the first to embrace his longtime friend on the 18th green.

After Sunday in Detroit, his wait is over. Fowler won the Rocket Mortgage Classic with a birdie on the first playoff hole Sunday, earning his sixth PGA Tour title and ending a four-plus year winless drought.

“It’s just nice to have this one out of the way,” Fowler said. “It’s just been a long road.”

Playing in the final grouping, Fowler posted a bogey-free 68 that featured four birdies during the final round. His 24-under total was enough to force a playoff with Collin Morikawa and Adam Hadwin. After failing to make birdie for much of the back nine, Fowler stuffed his approach at the 18th. Once he cleaned up his birdie putt, he was headed back to the 18th tee prepping for a playoff.

“Going to 18, [I] basically knew what I had to do,” Fowler said. “Our back was against the wall.”

Following a wayward tee shot on the first playoff hole, Fowler was able to escape trouble from the right rough, hitting his approach to makable range. After watching Hadwin and Morikawa fail to make birdie, a 12-footer was all that separated Fowler from victory.

“I just kept telling myself just hit a good putt and give it a chance,” Fowler said. “It was a nice moment just to kind of feel like the weight on my shoulders was finally off.”

The win is Fowler’s first since the 2019 Waste Management Phoenix Open.

A victory has never seen more imminent during his drought than this summer. Fowler, who will rise to No. 23 in the world with the win, has registered seven top 10s and 14 top 25s in 19 starts this season. He has not finished outside the top 15 since mid-May.

“The last two weekends definitely helped going into today,” Fowler said. “Just know[ing] that I didn’t have to be perfect, [I] just had to keep doing what we’ve been doing.”

As Fowler’s ball dropped into the cup, he looked to the sky and exhaled. Over four years since his last victory, Fowler no longer had to wait.

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