Someone was going to end a win drought. Adam Hadwin had not held a trophy in six-plus years. Rickie Fowler had been winless in four-plus seasons and Collin Morikawa was coming up on two years and counting. In the end, it was Fowler who broke through, using a 12-foot birdie putt to end a playoff among the three on the first extra hole to win the Rocket Mortgage Classic.
In a tournament where birdies are much needed, Fowler was stuck in neutral for most of the final round at Detroit Golf Club, running off a frustrating string of 10 consecutive pars from holes eight through 17. That required Fowler to come up with a clutch shot at the par-4 18th, a pitching wedge from 145 yards that stopped three feet from the hole, the ensuing birdie adding him to the playoff.
After a wayward tee shot on the 18th (the playoff hole) left his 183 yards from the green in the rough, Fowler came up clutch again, knocking the approach inside 12 feet after getting a drop for casual water.
Fowler’s iron play was consistent with what he had done all week, as he ranked second in strokes gained/approach at 7.556 and T-2 in greens in regulation, hitting 61 of 72 for an 84.72 percent clip.
Fowler’s irons are Cobra’s King Tour model. The clubs are a half-inch shorter than standard and range from 1 degree to 2 degrees flatter than standard on the lie angle.
The now six-time PGA Tour winner was solid on the greens as well, using his Odyssey O-Works Jailbird Mini mallet putter not just for the winning putt, but his two longest makes of the year – a 49-footer on Friday and a 46-footer on Sunday.
Asked after the third round about ending his winless streak, Fowler was nonplussed. “Whether it happens tomorrow or not, it’s going to happen here soon,” he said.
“I’m not pressing that, ‘Hey, I need to go get it done tomorrow or it means absolutely nothing.’ I’ve been playing a lot of really good golf and been putting myself in good positions. This definitely won’t be the last, but yeah, it will be fun tomorrow.”
Of course, it’s more fun when you win.
What Rickie Fowler has in the bag at the 2023 Rocket Mortgage Classic:
Ball: TaylorMaade TP5
Driver: Cobra Aerojet LS (Mitsubishi Diamana White Board 70X), 9 degrees
3-wood: Cobra Aerojet LS, 13.5 degrees
5-wood: Cobra LTDx Pro, 19 degrees
Irons (4-PW): Cobra King Forged Tour
Wedges: Cobra King V Grind (52, 56, 58 degrees)
Putter: Odyssey O-Works Jailbird Mini