Rickie Fowler overcame a seven-shot deficit by starting his final round with seven straight birdies at Albany Golf Club and closing with an 11-under 61 for a four-shot victory over Charley Hoffman.
Prior to Fowler’s 61, the previous low final round score by a Hero World Challenge winner was 64, set on three occasions and most recently by Luke Donald in 2005.
Fowler opened his round with seven birdies before making his first par on the par-4 eighth hole. In comparison (in official PGA TOUR events), that would equal the longest such streak to open a round since Joe Durant had seven in a row at the beginning of round four at the 2005 Honda Classic.
The longest birdie streak on the PGA TOUR is nine holes, set by Mark Calcavecchia during a second-round 65 at the 2009 RBC Canadian Open (finished T8).
The victory at the Hero World Challenge is the second of the year for 28 year old Fowler.
Hoffman birdied the first hole, while Fowler birdied the first seven. There never was a challenge to Fowler as he went on to shoot a course record 61.
“I knew I needed to get off to a quick start to at least show Charley I was there,” Fowler said.
Fowler said he had seven consecutive birdies once before, when he was 17 in the Polo Match play at Sea Island. “I had long hair then”, said Fowler.
Tommy Fleetwood, the Race to Dubai winner closed with a 67 and tied for third with Jordan Spieth (69).
Tiger Woods, the host of the tournament making his return to competition finished T-9 at 8-under par.
Fowler had his best year on tour in 2016-17, yet that first major win still eluded him.
After Sergio Garcia won the 2017 Masters, Fowler is now considered the best player in golf to of never won a major.
Also, despite his best year on tour statistically he didn’t win as often as he would of liked.
When asked if that was frustrating Fowler said, “It was never frustrating because we were in contention going into Saturdays and Sundays and having chances. I mean, playing on the PGA TOUR around the world, it’s kind of — it’s a game that you can’t base success off just winning. I think Tiger during his prime, he had one of the best winning percentages, around 30 percent. I don’t think anyone really sniffs double digits.”
Fowler believes that putting himself in contention will lead to more wins: “Last year I could have gotten down on myself a handful of times for not getting the job done or not winning more, but it was a fun year. Being in contention with your buddies and some of the best players in the world, keep doing that and trophies will fall into place”, said Fowler.
As for the major missing from his trophy case Fowler believes that will come as well.
“We only get four chances a year, so there’s four big weeks that we always think about it. But I put myself in position to be in contention at majors so we’re just going to keep knocking at the door”, said Fowler.