The youth movement in golf got a serious morale boost on Sunday, as Rickie Fowler got his first PGA Tour victory after beating Rory McIlroy and D.A. Points in a playoff at the 2012 Wells Fargo Championship. And in a tournament where Tiger Woods looked about as far from “back” as he ever has, this new wave of talented young players led by Fowler and McIlroy may be exactly what golf needs.
Fowler fired a final round 67 at Quail Hollow to get to 14-under par and earn entry into a three-way playoff with McIlroy and Points, and on the first playoff hole (No. 18) Fowler fired a wedge to four feet and sank his birdie putt for the win. It was his 67th start on tour and his second win worldwide having beat McIlroy in the Kolon Korea Open last October.
The win was a major career breakthrough for the 23-year old Rickie Fowler, who had finished second four times prior to his victory at the Wells Fargo Championship. It also netted him a cool $1.17 million and should vault him into the Top 25 of the Official World Golf Rankings.
However, most importantly, it got the proverbial monkey off the back of one of the game’s most talented young players. Fowler is one of several 20-somethings who have been tasked with growing the game and ushering in a new era of golf in what appears to be a post-prime era for Tiger Woods.
Rickie Fowler is as talented as any of these young players, and he is likely to enjoy the luxuries of the winner’s circle several times in what is certain to be a bright future. And now that he is on the board, look for Fowler to be considered one of the prohibitive favorites at next month’s U.S. Open at the Olympic Club in San Francisco, California.