Phoenix Open: Rickie Fowler defies difficult conditions to win title

Rickie Fowler finished two clear of Branden Grace
Rickie Fowler finished two clear of Branden Grace

Rickie Fowler defied bad weather, bad luck and occasional bad golf to finally win the Waste Management Phoenix Open at long last.

Leaderboard

-17 Rickie Fowler

-15 Branden Grace

-14 Justin Thomas

-12 Chez Reavie, Bubba Watson, Matt Kuchar

Round four report

Rickie Fowler defied bad weather, bad luck and occasional bad golf to finally win the Waste Management Phoenix Open at long last.

In this event back in 2010, Fowler squandered a chance to win for the first time on the PGA Tour while 2016 saw him lose a play-off in unfortunate circumstances, and as he surrendered what was a four-shot Sunday lead with a triple-bogey at the 11th, another bizarre unravelling was taking place.

But this time everyone was struggling, TPC Scottsdale playing far tougher than it had over the first three rounds, and Fowler was able to recover to rejoin Branden Grace in a share of the lead.

Then, at the 17th, a hole which owed Fowler plenty, Grace ran up a bogey in the group ahead. That allowed Fowler to make a regulation birdie for a two-shot lead before scrambling par at the final hole to win by two.

"It was a bit of a rollercoaster," he told Sky Sports. "We moved on, and that's what's nice about having a cushion after 54 holes - you don't have to be perfect.

"To play the way I did over the last four or five holes was nice.

"I know it can go the right way and it can go the wrong way. Winning and getting some good trophies for the house is amazing, but there's a lot bigger things in life."

Grace produced the best golf of the final few groups for a round of 69 which earned him second place, having for a while appeared likely to be enough for the title, while third place went to Justin Thomas following a closing 72.

Matt Kuchar bogeyed the 15th and 17th holes, finding water twice, to fall into a share of fourth with Chez Reavie and Bubba Watson, both of whom have come close to winning the event in the past.

Tyrrell Hatton stayed on to a place inside the top 20 with a closing 68, but pick of the Europeans were Jon Rahm and Russell Knox, who shared 10th place.

Round three report

Rickie Fowler fired a 64 to open up a four-shot lead heading into the final round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

The American finished seven under for the day after amassing eight birdies to sit ahead of second-place Matt Kuchar.

Twice runner-up Fowler dropped just one shot on the par-three seventh, leaving him 20 under after 54 holes at TPC Scottsdale.

American Kuchar, chasing his third victory after wins at the Mayakoba Golf Classic and Sony Open in Hawaii, shot a blemish-free round of 65 to move ahead of compatriot Justin Thomas.

Thomas overcame an early stumble with two bogeys on the front nine to run off four birdies after the turn, signing for 68 and dropping into third place on 15 under overall.

Branden Grace and Byeong Hun An sit seven off the pace, tied in fourth at 13 under.

Meanwhile, Brandt Snedeker claimed the first birdie on the 16th, where the PGA Tour had placed Jarrod Lyle's golf bag and yellow hat on the tee in memory of the Australian who died from cancer aged 36 in August last year.

Round two report

Rickie Fowler followed up an opening 64 with a 65 on Friday as he prised a one-shot lead at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

The American was level with compatriots Justin Thomas and Harold Varner, but strung together four birdies over the last four holes to finish six under for the day and 13 under for the tournament.

It could have been a bigger lead, but Fowler dropped a shot at the par-4 ninth.

Thomas sits second after a round of 66, mixing two birdies with a bogey on the 13th, 14th and 15th in Scottsdale.

Branden Grace and Ben Coley's 250/1 tip Trey Mullinax sit a shot further back and tied for 3rd, while Scotland's Martin Laird is in a two-way tie for seventh after carding a 68.

Varner had a torrid second round, carding 71 and dropping to tied 11th, while Japan's Hideki Matsuyama, bidding to win the tournament for a third time, is tied 24th on five-under.

Phil Mickelson's record 30th appearance in the event was brief, with a second round of 75 meaning he missed the cut.

Round one report

Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler and Harlold Varner share the lead after the opening round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

The American pair both shot clean rounds in Scottsdale, with Thomas carding five birdies across six holes of the back nine to grab a share of the lead.

Fowler holed an eagle putt on the par-5 13th on his way to 64, matched by Varner who also went round in seven-under.

Scotland's Martin Laird is a shot behind, having started his round with a birdie-bogey-eagle, while England's Tyrrell Hatton is tied for 6th on five under.

Hideki Matsuyama, who won the title in 2016 and 2017 and was gunning for a third-straight in 2018 when he was forced to withdraw with a wrist injury, made a slow start.

His round of 68 was enough for joint 27th alongside 12 other players, including partner and defending champion Gary Woodland, and Ben Coley's 28/1 tip Phil Mickelson who is making a record 30th appearance in the event.

Coley's 250/1 selection Trent Mullineux sits in a share of 11th on four-under.

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