PRO GOLFER Rickie Fowler holds up the Honda Classic trophy after the conclusion of the golf tournament in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., on Sunday.

PRO GOLFER Rickie Fowler holds up the Honda Classic trophy after the conclusion of the golf tournament in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., on Sunday.

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla.

Rickie Fowler didn’t care about pretty. He cared about winning.

Staked to a four-shot lead, Fowler hit one putt into a sprinkler hole and a tee shot into the water. But when his lead was cut to one shot, Fowler answered with two big birdie putts to regain control and finished off a four-shot victory in the Honda Classic.

The bogey-bogey finish kept him from setting the 72- hole record at PGA National.

That wasn’t important.

At his feet was a crystal trophy, something he hasn’t owned in 13 months even as peers like Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy kept piling them up. It was Fowler’s turn Sunday.

“Whether I’m talked about with those guys or not, I just want to play the best that I can and keep pushing myself and ultimately, just keep trying to put myself in position to win and start collecting more of these,” Fowler said, tapping the trophy.

He closed with a 1-over 71 for a four-shot victory over Gary Woodland, the only player to seriously challenge him, and Morgan Hoffmann.

Fowler faced the strongest wind of the week at PGA National, and he didn’t feel as though he had control of his swing the way he did all week. But the 28-year-old kid with fashion flair still has a knack for clutch moments, whether it was the 30-foot birdie putt on No. 8, or the two winning moments — a 40-foot birdie putt on No. 12, and a 25-foot birdie putt on the 13th.

This was more substance than style.

“I didn’t play great,” Fowler said. “It wasn’t a pretty round. But we got the job done. A win is a win.”

Fowler effectively ended it with a shot over the water on the 16th to 3 feet that stretched his lead to five shots with two holes to play.

Woodland appeared to have second place wrapped up until he three-putted the 17th, and then tried to lay up on the par-5 18th and came up short into the water. He closed with another bogey for a 69. He had to share second place — the difference of $128,000 — with Hoffmann, who missed a 4-foot birdie putt on the 18th.

PGA champion Jimmy Walker was lurking on the fringe of contention until tee shots into the water on the 15th and 17th holes, which cost him five shots.

Tyrrell Hatton of England, who played in the final group in his first PGA Tour event in Florida, was out of the picture quickly. He still had a chance to finish alone in second, which would have gone a long way toward securing a PGA Tour card, until missing a 3-foot birdie putt on the 17th.

Fowler even got into the act when it no longer mattered. He hit his tee shot into the water on the 17th hole and made bogey, then hit a wedge into the bunker on the 18th and closed with another bogey to finish at 12- under 268.

Fowler jokingly referred to his “small collection” of trophies on Saturday evening, though it was important. He had gone 13 months and 25 starts worldwide without a victory.


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