Thursday 21 September 2017

Fowler breaks duck as McIlroy sparkles

Rickie Fowler. Photo: Getty Images
Rickie Fowler. Photo: Getty Images

Claude Hopper

RORY McILROY came roaring home with a sensational 64 at the Kolon Korea Open but still had to settle for second place as American idol Rickie Fowler finally broke his duck after two years as a professional.

Fowler finished six strokes in front of McIlroy after following up on his course record eight-under 63 at Woo Jeong Hills on Saturday with a cool 68 yesterday.

Frustrated with his runner-up finish behind the magnificent Michael Hoey at St Andrews the previous Sunday, McIlroy knew second place was about the best he could hope for in Korea after a slipshod 73 on Saturday had left him 10 strokes behind Fowler.

It has been some season for McIlroy, who won the US Open at Congressional in June and has not been outside the top three in his last four tournaments as he pursues a fourth win as a professional.

In all he's had 12 top-10s and seven top-five finishes in 20 events around the world this season, though McIlroy clearly would like to seal the deal a little more often than he has in just over four years in the paid ranks.

"It was a nice way to finish, but all the damage was done during the third round with a couple of bad holes in the middle of the round," said McIlroy.

"Looking back on this week, I will rue my third round, which could have been a lot better.

"If I'd played a little better and shot a few under on Saturday I might have had a chance, but Rickie has played fantastic this week and he deserves the win."

Fowler (22) has broken through a significant psychological barrier in Seoul and should now find it easier to clinch that elusive first victory on the US PGA Tour.

"It was a lot of fun. I played well early on in the final round and was comfortable over the last few holes," said the Californian, though he bogeyed the final two holes on his way to a 16-under total and a winner's cheque for $249,864 (€187,000).

"I'm looking forward to some time off and then I can take stock of everything and set some goals for next year.

"I'll play mainly on the PGA Tour next year and I would like to get my first win there, and this win will defiantly help me achieve that.

"I also haven't made the Tour Championship in the last two years, so that is another goal for next year. But the biggest goal is to make sure I make the Ryder Cup team."

McIlroy bagged $81,622 (€61,000) in second place on 10-under, not to mention the hefty six-figure appearance fee the Korea Open sponsors, Kolon, would expect to pay a reigning Major champion to play in their tournament.

Irish Independent

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