Instead, Fowler was given another opportunity and he took advantage of it.
Fowler rolled in his birdie putt from just outside four feet on the first playoff hole, the difficult No. 18, to defeat D.A. Points and Rory McIlroy to win the 10th Wells Fargo Championship. It was Fowler’s first PGA career victory.
"It's a good feeling right now," Fowler said. "Definitely some relief, satisfaction. I'm definitely happy. It's not a bad thing, winning. It's kind of fun. It will take a bit for it to sink in. Obviously there's a lot of people that have helped me out through the years and going through and thanking them one by one is going to take a bit."
Fowler had an up-and-down final round, recording six birdies and three bogeys to fire a 3-under 69. He was only player which started the day on the front page of the leaderboard to shoot in the 60s on Sunday.
"I felt really comfortable," Fowler said. "As times have gone on, sometimes I've been in contention, I've felt like I've been more and more comfortable every time. Today I felt really good. I think a lot of that comes from how well I struck the ball this week and how well I was swinging.
"So I was able to go out and trust that I was making good swings and I knew that the ball was going to kind of take off in the right direction."
Points had the tournament title all but in his hands when he teed it up on the 72nd hole. He pushed his tee shot to the right to avoid the creek down the left side and was fortunate his ball bounced out of a bunker.
His approach shot wasn’t much better, finding the sand trap right of the green. Points blasted his third shot to the front edge of the green, nearly 21 feet from the hole.
"The wind was whipping around a little bit, but I had 100...I think 165 to the front off a downhill lie out of the rough and generally speaking I hit an 8-iron 165 yards," Points said. "I was just trying to hit that right up the middle of the green and land it right on the front fringe and hope it kind of bounced up there.
"The ball was on a severe downhill lie and I just slid a little bit ahead of it, got ahead of it, and it went out to the right. Then I got a little bit of an unfortunate break, it hit the corner of the bunker and shot to the back. I was hoping that I was going to be a little bit more on an up-slope and be able to hit a higher, softer shot. Instead, I kind of had to try and hit something low and try to run it down there, which obviously didn't work very well."
Points stood over a par putt to win for the second time in his PGA career, he never gave it a chance. The ball ended up three feet short and Points settled for a bogey and a three-way tie for first. It was the first bogey for Points since the 13th hole in round two.
"These aren't the easiest greens we play all year, so it's...I don't feel that bad about it because these greens are really difficult and it's hard to be too aggressive on these greens," Points said. "But I will say that I think the gentleman told me I went like 40 holes without making a bogey, so obviously I was doing a lot right."
Despite his disappointment, Points erased his previous struggles at the Quail Hollow Club.
In his previous five starts in the Wells Fargo Championship, Points had only made one cut and never turned in a scorecard of less than 71 in 12 rounds. This time Points had three rounds in the 60s, firing a 66, 68 and 69 before finishing with a 71 on the final day.
After watching Points miss his chance to close out the tournament, McIlroy faced a 16-foot putt to sneak in the backdoor and win for the second time at Quail Hollow. Instead, McIlroy’s putt rolled past the hole and he settled for a par to join Fowler and Points at 14-under.
"I felt like it was a bonus just to get into the playoff after D.A. bogeyed the last," McIlroy said. "I can't — you wouldn't call the 18th today a birdie hole with that pin. For Rickie to go out and play that hole the way he did, he deserved to win."
Lee Westwood, the No. 3 player in the world, appeared to be set to make a statement early in the final round. Westwood sprinted out to a 6-under 30 on the front nine to move to 11-under for the tournament. After tacking on another birdie on the par-5 10th, Westwood was primed to flirt with the course record of 62 set by McIlroy in 2010.
Instead, Westwood bogeyed No. 12 and recorded par the rest of the way in to finish 11-under.
“It was a great front nine, wasn’t it,” Westwood said. “Put me in with a chance of winning the tournament. There’s some brutal flags out there on that back nine and it’s been tough. Wind is swirling a little bit and the greens are just getting faster. Yeah, you’d like to attack around this golf course, but it just won’t allow it sometimes.”
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org