Rickie Fowler never had a chance on Sunday at the Phoenix Open.
Seriously, he didn’t.
Call it a curse, call it what you want but as of Sunday, the last nine 54-hole leaders have failed to close the deal.
Fowler is the latest victim.
First, Fowler hasn’t been the best guy on the PGA Tour at closing when he’s held a 54-hole lead but after rounds of 66-66 then 67 on Saturday, Fowler looked like he had his act together, especially the way he’s handled the back nine at the TPC Scottsdale.
But Sunday it proved to be a giant pit of misery.
With Chez Reavie and Gary Woodland surging, Fowler was stuck in neutral. He made the turn at one-under and was very much in the hunt at 15-under. Until he came to the par five 15th.
He launched a horrible drive that would find the water left and that would be the beginning of the end for Fowler, clad in his Sunday orange. He took bogey and with it, all the wind came out of his sails. His collapse worsened with another bogey at the short 16th then he added another water ball for good measure at 17. By the end of the fiasco, he shot 73 and fell all the way from first into a lowly tie for 11th at 12-under.
“I just couldn’t buy a putt,” Fowler lamented post-collapse. “That’s one of the best clubs in my bag. I felt like a hit a lot of good putts so it was a little disappointing to not see anything go in on the back nine. I think that was kind of the biggest letdown.” Not to mention the two water balls.
Fowler wasn’t alone on the Poor Performance By A Superstar list.
Jon Rahm was right there with him.
Fowler started 14-under, Rahm a shot back at 13-under and many expected a duel between stars over the final 18.
Like Fowler, Rahm turned one-under and was looking at a lot of birdie opportunities over the final nine.
Instead, like Fowler, he produced three bogeys, including a water ball on the par five 15th when he drowned his second shot. He cut Fowler by a shot, went over par with 72 and imploded on Sunday for the second straight week.
In all, it was a pretty unimpressive day for the two highest-ranked stars in the field.