Charley Hoffman never saw Rickie Fowler coming.
Hoffman, who took a five-shot lead into Sunday’s final round of the Hero World Challenge, got runover by a runaway birdie train wearing orange.
While everyone with an NBC or Golf Channel shirt was gushing over the return of Tiger Woods to competitive golf, quietly, Fowler put on one helluva Sunday show at Albany Resort.
All Rickie did was got out and birdie his first seven holes. His perfect front-nine run was spoiled only by a par at the uneasy par three eighth. An eighth birdie at the ninth hole gave Fowler a mind-boggling 28 on the front nine. “I’ve made seven birdies before,” Fowler pointed out, I really wanted that eighth but didn’t get it. Just tried to stay calm as possible. I knew I needed to get off to a quick start to show Charley (Hoffman) that I was there and I did that.”
Hoffman could manage no better than even par on the front nine and the handwriting was on the wall, he was about to go zero-for-five when leading an event after 54 holes.
The only true question was the 59 question — Fowler was officially on the 59 watch at the turn but admitted, “I didn’t want to get ahead of myself.”
Didn’t matter that Fowler cooled off over the final nine. Three more birdies added up to a 61 and a new course record that wiped out 62 set by Justin Rose a few years ago.
“Great play,” Jordan Spieth told Fowler while he waited to collect the trophy from host Tiger Woods after finishing at 18-under.
“It’s nice,” Fowler said of his week’s work. “We can build on some things and make it a special season.”
For the record, he beat Hoffman by four and was a half-dozen shots better than Spieth and Tommy Fleetwood, who tied for third.
He was also a whopping 10 shots better than Woods.
Getting the trophy from Woods?
“It’s cool,” said Fowler.
Yeah, no doubt it was.