NORTON, Mass.—Four months ago, the question was whether Rickie Fowler was winning as much as he should.
Three victories later, no one can question how he wins.
At The Players Championship, he finished birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie and then won a three-hole playoff over Sergio Garcia and Kevin Kisner.
Two months later, he made birdie on three of the last four holes for a one-shot victory over Matt Kuchar and Raphael Jacquelin.
And in the annual Labour Day finish at the Deutsche Bank Championship, he was flawless on the back nine in rallying from a three-shot deficit to beat Henrik Stenson.
“It’s pretty special to fight it out like that,” Fowler said.
This time he needed some help. Stenson led the entire round and never looked as though he was going to give Fowler an inch when he ended up giving him a mile on the par-three 16th.
Stenson hit a towering seven-iron that he though was going to land in the middle of the green.
Instead, it hit the front mounding, dropped down to the rocks, and bounced into the water for a double-bogey.
That effectively was the tournament.
Fowler, who made a 40-foot birdie putt on 14th to pull within one shot, suddenly was two shots ahead with two hole to play.
And while he twice failed to convert birdie putts inside 10 feet over the final two holes, he didn’t have to make them.
Stenson couldn’t catch him as Fowler closed with a three-under 68 and a one-shot victory.
It moved him to No. 5 in the world and on the cusp of being part of this year’s “Big Three”—Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, and Jason Day.
“They’ve clearly played the best out of anyone over the past few months to couple of years,” Fowler noted.
“So I’m trying to be a small fourth thrown in there.
“But there’s a lot of other really good young players playing well right now, as well,” he added.
Spieth and Day each have four wins, all on the PGA Tour, and three of the four majors.
McIlroy has three wins—Dubai, Match Play, and the Wells Fargo Championship—but lost some momentum when he missed two months with an ankle injury.
Fowler hasn’t been as consistently good as the other three this year, though he made this much clear on the TPC Boston: get him near the lead on the back nine, or at least in the final hour of a tournament, and he’s not going to back down.
Stenson, meanwhile, now has finished runner-up in both FedEx Cup playoff events (he was six shots behind Day at The Barclays), and he has been runner-up four times this year.
The consolation was moving to No. 4 in the FedEx Cup behind Day, Spieth, and Fowler—still in the mix for a $10-million bonus at the Tour Championship.
Also still in the running are Hunter Mahan and William McGirt, both moving into the top 70 in the standings to advance to the third playoff event in two weeks.
Mahan tied for fourth and kept alive his streak of playing every FedEx Cup playoff event since the series began in 2007.
McGirt, meanwhile, holed out for eagle on the 17th hole and that was enough to extend his season.