Originally Published: February 27, 2017 12:45 a.m.
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — Rickie Fowler made it interesting Sunday for as long as it took him to make two big putts to pull away in the Honda Classic.
Staked to a four-shot lead, Fowler hit one putt into a sprinkler hole, hit a tee shot into the water and watched a big lead shrink to one over Gary Woodland early on the back nine. Fowler answered with consecutive birdie putts of 40 and 25 feet and closed with a 1-over 71 for a four-shot victory.
"If I don't make those putts, I've got a pretty tight race," Fowler said.
Instead, those chasing him had the biggest problems with the closing stretch at PGA National. Fowler effectively ended it with a shot over the water to the 3 feet that stretched his lead to five shots with two holes to play. Woodland appeared to have second place wrapped up until he three-putted the 17th, and then tried to lay up on the par-5 18th and came up short into the water. He closed with another bogey for a 69. He had to share second place — the difference of $128,000 — with Morgan Hoffmann, who missed a 4-foot birdie putt on the 18th and setted for a 68.
Fowler hit his tee shot into the water on the 17th hole and made bogey, then hit a wedge into the bunker on the 18th and closed with another bogey.
to finish at 12-under 268. He had gone 13 months and 25 starts worldwide without a victory. It was his first PGA Tour victory since the Deutsche Bank Championship in September 2015.