NORTON, Mass. – Rickie Fowler delivered all the right shots Monday at the Deutsche Bank Championship, and then he delivered some champagne.
He stood near the wood railing overlooking a dozen rows of reporters, hoisting an empty bottle in one hand and a microphone in the other.
“Let’s finish off the year right,” Fowler said.
He certainly showed he is capable after a tense duel with Henrik Stenson at the TPC Boston.
Trailing by three shots early on the back nine, Fowler rolled in a 40-foot putt on the 14th hole to pull within one and then seized control when Stenson hit a towering tee shot that came down short and into the water for double bogey on the par-3 16th.
That combination sent Fowler to another big win. He closed with a 3-under 68 for a one-shot victory that assured him of a spot in the top five at the Tour Championship and a clear shot at the $10 million bonus in the FedEx Cup.
Fowler won The Players Championship in a three-hole playoff in May and the Scottish Open with three birdies on the last four holes.
“Being in those positions before, I definitely felt very calm out there,” he said. “I knew what I was trying to do. Knew what I had to do. And was very much ready to do it.”
Fowler moved to No. 5 in the world, not quite part of the “Big Three” this year of Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day, but perhaps on the cusp of it.
“They’ve clearly played the best out of anyone over the past few months to couple of years,” Fowler said. “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.”
Stenson was a runner-up in a FedEx Cup playoff event for the second straight week, and this one figures to sting.
He holed a 15-foot birdie putt on No. 10 for a three-shot lead. And when Fowler hit a bold 5-wood to 10 feet for birdie on No. 11 for a two-shot swing, the Swede answered with a 35-foot birdie on 12 to restore his cushion to two shots.
It all changed quickly and dramatically on the par-3 16th.
“I obviously pulled the wrong club on 16 and was trying to get the most out of a 7-iron into the wind and ballooned that one a little bit and that was the crucial mistake. Making double there was really a killer,” Stenson said. “I tried to get those two shots back, or at least one to force a playoff, on the last two holes and couldn’t manage to do it.”
Fowler finished at 15-under 269 and moved to No. 3 in the FedEx Cup behind Day and Spieth, with Stenson at No. 4 and Bubba Watson at No. 5.
Charley Hoffman bounced back from a 76 to close with a 67 and finish alone in third.
William McGirt, on the verge of being eliminated from the FedEx Cup, holed a 7-iron from the fairway on No. 17 for eagle. A par on 18 allowed him to grab No. 70.
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