Rickie Fowler wins in Abu Dhabi
Rickie Fowler was able to hold off a world class field at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship on Sunday, giving him his second win on the European Tour and fourth worldwide in the last nine months.
Fog was the big story early in the week, as both the second and third rounds were delayed to start due to the conditions, leading Fowler and many others to have to complete their third rounds on Sunday prior to starting the final eighteen. After that was complete, Fowler carried a three shot lead over Thomas Pieters, and he extended it early with birdies on his first two holes but after a run of pars, Fowler came back to the field in a big way with a double bogey on the par-3 7th thanks to firing one over the green from a waste area, leading to a tough lie with his third shot.
He actually recovered nicely and almost salvaged a bogey, but his lead was cut to one. Things weren’t looking much better on the par-5 8th either, as he took driver off the deck and sent his approach shot into the bunker and it appeared that he was heading for a par on a gettable hole, until…
The hole out for eagle gave Fowler back the strokes he lost on the previous hole, but another string of pars allowed Pieters and a few others to get back in the hunt, but the chase ended on the par-4 17th when Fowler managed to chip in again from off the green.
This restored his lead back to two shots and despite Pieters making birdie on the par-5 18th, it wasn’t enough and Fowler came away victorious in his second start of 2016.
- 1. Rickie Fowler -16
- 2. Thomas Pieters -15
- T3. Rory McIlroy -14
- T3. Henrik Stenson -14
What The Win Means For Fowler
We’ve come a very long way from last May when Fowler was crowned as the most overrated player on the PGA Tour by his peers. He’s won four big events, and with this win, he moves into fourth in the Official World Golf Rankings and I would hope that if there was anyone left prior to this tournament that thought he wasn’t one of the world’s best, that those people have quickly reversed course on that opinion. Jason Sobel did a good job outlining the reasons why in his recap for ESPN, and there’s no reason why Fowler can’t take the next step (major wins) this season, and along with Jordan Spieth, become the two defining faces of American golf. I’m not betting against him, and you shouldn’t be either.
- Takes home roughly $442,000 USD for the win.
- Picks up his sixth win as a professional.
- Moves to fourth in the OWGR.
Jordan’s Getting Tired
Jordan Spieth had a good week, finishing in a tie for fifth at 11-under par, and five shots back of Fowler but I thought his comments in the above article were interesting. People will say that it shouldn’t be that tiring to play golf for a living, and some already have if you look at the responses to the tweet, but the quotes reminded me of a conversation that Tiger was having with Rory a few years ago when they were playing their one on one match at Mission Hills. Rory was talking about how he wanted to start cutting down on his schedule because he felt worn down and now as sharp at certain points during the season, and Tiger told him that he went through the same thing early in his career as well and that at a certain point, you have to realize that you can’t play everywhere and expect to stay on top of your game. This could be something to watch as the year goes on.
Don’t Hit It There
- Pieters is the new Belgian Bomber (RIP Nicolas Colsaerts) and if he doesn’t make Darren Clarke’s Ryder Cup team in September, I’m filing an official protest with Clarke, the European Tour and anyone else who will take it.
- Considering that he just had knee surgery, it was a really impressive week for Stenson but he’s still not ready to go. He pulled out of the Qatar Masters next week in order to rest up and be ready for the Dubai Desert Classic.
- Great start to the season for Rory, who can really have his week summed up in one GIF:
- Ian Poulter was right there with Pieters and Fowler for a decent portion of Sunday’s final round, but faded late to fall out of contention. Even still, it’s a good sign for Poulter and Clarke that he’s in good form to start the season as even though we’re months away, the American Ryder Cup team is looking incredibly stout, and having an in-form Poulter would be a massive help to the European effort.
- Bryson DeChambeau had the first round lead after an 8-under par 64, but he faded badly in the next three rounds to finish fourteen shots behind Fowler. It’s going to be interesting to watch his progression as the year goes on, as he’s expected to turn pro after the Masters and try to earn status on one of the pro tours.
- He did have an interesting situation to deal with during the week though. During the third round, he was playing with McIlroy and Andy Sullivan, and as the threesome played the ninth hole, Sullivan lost his ball on the right side from the tee. It landed in the bushes, and after searching for the maximum five minutes without finding the ball, Sullivan went back to the tee. McIlroy assisted in the search, but DeChambeau stayed in the fairway with his caddie, which as I’m sure you’re all aware, isn’t what most would call proper etiquette. DeChambeau did apologize after the round via Twitter, saying that he thought Sullivan’s ball went in the water and that’s why he didn’t assist.
- Mike Weir shot 80-77 to finish second last for the week after earning a sponsor’s exemption, yet he feels like he’s going in the right direction? I guess we’ll see soon, as he has another exemption next week at the Qatar Masters, but:
The aforementioned Qatar Masters is coming up, and it starts a day early, so check your listings if you want to tune in. It should be a good one too with the 2016 debut of Sergio Garcia and a host of top European Tour players.