Players Championship: Rickie Fowler wins title after superb finish

American Rickie Fowler
American Rickie Fowler shot 31 on the back nine to secure victory
Players Championship final leaderboard (US unless stated)
-12: R Fowler, S Garcia (Spa), K Kisner; -11: B Martin, B Haas; -9: K Na, R Sabbatini (SA); -8; J Donaldson (Wal), R McIlroy (NI), B Harman, J Senden (Aus), R Ishikawa
Selected others: -4 I Poulter (Eng); -3: S Gallacher (Sco); -2: P Harrington (Ire); Level: G McDowell (NI); +3: T Woods

American Rickie Fowler beat Sergio Garcia and Kevin Kisner in a play-off on a dramatic final day at the Players Championship at Sawgrass.

The trio finished on 12-under but Fowler beat Kisner at the first sudden death hole after Garcia was earlier eliminated.

It was his second PGA Tour win after success in the Wells Fargo Championship in August 2012.

"I felt really good all week, this is special," said the 26-year-old.

In the first three-hole aggregate play-off in tournament history, Garcia could only play the 16th, 17th and 18th in level par as Fowler and Kisner played them in one under thanks to birdies on the 17th.

And Fowler then repeated the trick on the first hole of sudden death to give him a prize of $1.8m (£1.16m) in the tournament often dubbed as golf's richest event.

The victory came in the week Fowler and England's Ian Poulter were voted the most overrated players by their peers in an anonymous survey conducted by Sports Illustrated but Fowler believes the win answers his critics.

"I laughed at the poll, but I was always looked at as only having one win on tour, and I always felt that I needed to put myself in position to win more often," he added.

"I look at this event as basically like a major. It has the major feel, obviously one of the best fields we play all year, on a tough golf course.

"This will definitely give me momentum going into the US Open (18-21 June) and makes me feel confident about being in this situation and taking care of business."

Fowler, who started his round three shots behind leader Chris Kirk, was one-over after 10 holes and seemingly out of contention.

But he shot four birdies and an eagle in his final six holes and looked on course for victory, but Garcia and Kisner both birdied the 16th and 17th to force a play-off.

Spain's Sergio Garcia
Garcia had been aiming for a first PGA Tour win since claiming victory at the Wyndham Championship in North Carolina in August 2012

World number one Rory McIlroy fired a final-round 69 to finish on eight under, alongside Wales' Jamie Donaldson.

McIlroy, 26, had been chasing back-to-back wins after last week's victory in the WGC Match Play but said his putting cost him any chance of victory.

"I had to shoot something in the mid 60s to give myself a chance," said McIlroy. "I gave myself enough opportunities all week but my putter let me down all week."

Poulter started the day four shots off the lead but shot a two-over 74 to finish down the field.

Former world number one Tiger Woods, 39, had a final round of 72, which left the 14-time major winner on three over par, joint 69th of the 75 players to make the cut.

He has recorded a worse score at Sawgrass, shooting five over par in 2005, the year he won the Masters and the Open at St Andrews.

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