Analysis: Players win thrusts Fowler into major conversation

Mon May 11, 2015 4:13pm EDT
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Rickie Fowler's stunning victory at the $10 million Players Championship was unquestionably the perfect riposte to any criticism of his perceived inability to close out tournament wins.

Much more significantly, through, his thrilling playoff win after four extra holes at the TPC Sawgrass thrust his name back into the conversation about the players most likely to dominate the game at the highest level over the next decade.

Fowler has been bracketed with Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Jason Day as golf's most exciting 'young guns' but doubts had surfaced after he started this year with a solitary career win on the PGA Tour despite several close calls along the way.

An anonymous player poll conducted by Sports Illustrated revealed last week that the young American and England's Ian Poulter were the two most overrated golfers on the U.S. circuit.

Regardless of the survey's merits, Fowler used the results as strong motivation as he stormed to the top of the Players Championship leaderboard with an eagle-birdie-birdie finish in regulation before sealing victory in the playoff.

"Given the fact that ... Rickie Fowler, by some of his peers, anonymously was called out as being overrated, I cannot remember a more 'in-your face' victory in any other endeavor, in any other sport," said Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee.

After earning the winner's cheque for $1.8 million at the unofficial "fifth major" by adding a second PGA Tour title to his career resume, Fowler readily admitted that the player poll had given him timely motivation.

"I laughed at the poll, but if there was any question, I think this right here answers anything you need to know," the 26-year-old told reporters.   Continued...

May 10, 2015; Ponte Vedra Beach, FL, USA; Rickie Fowler celebrates after making a birdie putt on the 17th green (fourth playoff hole) to win The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass - Stadium Course. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY