Rickie Fowler sets course record, wins Hero World Challenge
ALBANY, Bahamas – Rickie Fowler knew he had to do something special to catch Charley Hoffman, and he didn’t disappoint.
Trailing by seven strokes starting Sunday’s final round of the $3.5 million Hero World Challenge, Fowler opened with seven consecutive birdies and fired an Albany and tournament-record 11-under-par 61 to win by four strokes over Hoffman. Fowler finished at 18-undrer 270, while Hoffman closed with a 72 and wound up at 14-under 274.
Jordan Spieth (69) and Tommy Fleetwood (67) shared third at 12-under 276.
Tournament host and five-time winner Tiger Woods concluded an impressive comeback by shooting 68 and tied for ninth.
“I knew I needed to get off to a quick start to show Charley I was there and get up the leaderboard,” said the 28-year-old Fowler. “We took care of that and kind of kept it rolling from there.”
After carding four-straight birdies, Fowler’s streak seemed in jeopardy at the par-3 fifth, where he found the right-greenside bunker. No problem. Fowler splashed his sand shot into the center of the cup.
He added two more, but he was unable to birdie the eighth. Fowler also birdied the par-5 ninth to turn in 8-under 28 and carried a two-shot cushion into the final nine.
He wasn’t challenged again. Hoffman started slowly, then settled in and parred the last nine holes.
Fowler’s best previous round on the PGA Tour was 62 in the second round of the 2011 Waste Management Open. His last Tour win came in February at the Honda Classic.
Fowler led the field at Hero with 30 birdies and did not make a bogey on Sunday. He hasn’t finished worse than sixth in six Hero appearances.
For the second time in the tournament, Woods blazed a 5-under 31 on the front nine, thanks to a 25-foot eagle putt at the par-4 seventh, where he drove the green with a driver. Woods birdied the par-5 ninth to pull into a tie for fourth.
Making his first start in 301 days, Woods double-bogeyed the par-4 10th, then rebounded with three birdies. Despite closing bogeys at 17 and 18, he was excited about his play and encouraged about his future.
“I knew I was going to be able to play all four rounds, that wasn’t going to be an issue,” said a pain-free Woods, who underwent his fourth back surgery last April and was competing for only the fourth time in three years. “The issue was scoring. I drove it pretty well and made some good putts. Overall, I’m pretty pleased.”
Woods posted scores of 69-68-75-68 to finish at 8-under 280.
Proceeds from the event go to the Tiger Woods Foundation.
“This tournament means a lot because we are able to showcase what we are doing for kids,” he said. “We have helped hundreds of thousands. In the next couple of years we will help millions through STEM.”