Rickie Fowler has won the Players Championship in incredible style, making birdie on the island 17th hole three times within two hours.
On a hole that has frustrated him repeatedly in his time playing TPC Sawgrass, the American birdied it in regulation, then twice in a gripping playoff that gave him his first PGA Tour victory in almost three years.
And to cap it all off, it comes hot on the heels of a Sports Illustrated anonymous players’ poll that recently voted him and Ian Poulter the “most over-rated’’ players on the PGA Tour.
Fowler (final round of 67) joined Sergio Garcia (68) and Kevin Kisner (69) in an aggregate three-hole playoff after the trio tied at 12 under after regulation.
Fowler made a withering six-under-par run in his closing six holes just to make the playoff which Kisner came within millimetres of averting before it happened when his final-hole birdie putt singed the cup.
All three made pars on the 16th, then Kisner and Fowler made birdie on the 17th to eliminate Garcia when all three parred the 18th holes.
Then, with the Kisner inside 7m in sudden death back on the 17th, Fowler played a scintillating shot to within 2m on one of the most daunting tee shots in world golf.
Kisner missed his birdie try and Fowler rammed his in for what, remarkably, was his fifth birdie on the island hole in six trips this week.
Of the Australian contingent, John Senden carded a final-round 70 to finish tied 8th at eight under alongside world No.1 Rory McIlroy.
Victorians Marc Leishman (69) and Geoff Ogilvy (70) made progress to finish tied 24th at five under.
Queenslander Adam Scott endured a round he’d rather forget, making a double-bogey seven on the ninth hole alongside three other bogeys en route to a 75 and a T38 finish at three under.
And Robert Allenby fired his second consecutive 73 to finish T56 at even par.
Steve Bowditch, Aaron Baddeley and Jason Day all missed the even-par cut.
Fowler has won just once – at the 2012 Wells Fargo Championship –in his previous 136 starts on the PGA Tour and was Rookie of the Year in 2010, beating out McIlroy.
Before today, Fowler had finished runner-up seven times, third five times, had 35 top-10 finishes and has been in the top 25 another 59 times.
He was 13th in the world rankings before his win and every player ranked above him has more than one career victory.
Last year, Fowler joined Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as the only players in history to finish in the top five of all four major championships. He finished tied for fifth at the Masters, was runner-up at the US Open and The Open and tied for third at the US PGA Championship.
Fowler insisted during the week that the survey hadn’t irritated him, but showed clear signs of his intentions.
“It’s fine by me … I guess top-fives in four majors aren’t that good,” he quipped.
“I’m going to try and play as well as I can … and I’m going to take care of my business.’’