Fowler finds the right place for his first PGA Tour victory
Rickie Fowler kept telling anyone who would listen that his first PGA Tour win was coming soon.
Considering the location, it made perfect sense.
Quail Hollow in Charlotte, N.C., is where Anthony Kim, fearless at age 22, won by five shots for his first tour victory in 2008. It's where Rory McIlroy, a 20-year-old from Northern Ireland projected for greatness, set the course record with a 62 in the final round two years ago to capture his first U.S. win.
Perhaps another star was born at the Wells Fargo Championship.
Fowler, a 23-year-old from California, lived up to his hype in a big way Sunday. Since turning pro 21/2 years ago, Fowler had scored little more than style points with his mop-top hair, the flat-billed cap he wears backward in interviews, his head-to-toe orange that has become his trademark in the final round and impeccable manners that have made him a favorite among fans and his peers.
He added plenty of substance in a playoff packed with pressure and a budding rival in McIlroy.
From 133 yards to a pin so scary that the 18th hole had yielded only four birdies all day, Fowler took dead aim with a 51-degree wedge. Anything less than perfect, and his ball could have come up short and rolled toward the tiny stream left of the green. But this was no time to play it safe.
"If I don't have a little bit of help or don't hit it perfectly, then I land short and I'm in the creek," Fowler said. "But playing against those two guys, I know that they're going to make birdie at some point. And I don't want to sit there and try and make pars and stay in it. I had a good number, and I wanted to make birdie."
That he did, watching his wedge land just short of the flag and spin to the left about 4 feet away.
D.A. Points, whose first bogey in 41 holes made the three-man playoff possible, went long and did well to two-putt for par, the second putt from 12 feet. McIlroy, who drilled a 3-wood nearly 340 yards and was last to hit, didn't turn his wedge enough with the wind and was left with a difficult birdie putt from about 25 feet. He ran it 5 feet by the hole and made that for par.
Fowler, who switched to a cross-handed grip last week at New Orleans, calmly sank the birdie putt for the win.
For a guy under increasing pressure to win, Fowler kept his cool even after he won. He clenched his fist and smiled. The only time he came close to getting emotional was when thinking about his coach, Barry McConnell, who died last year. It was McConnell who helped Fowler fashion a homemade swing on a practice range in Temecula, Calif., when Fowler was not on a motorcycle.
"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."
■ Phil Mickelson was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine, Fla., with two-time major champion Sandy Lyle, writer Dan Jenkins, player-turned-broadcaster Peter Alliss, and four-time LPGA major champion Hollis Stacy.
Cats sweep SEC's weekly softball awards
Kentucky seniors Chanda Bell and Brittany Cervantes were named the Southeastern Conference's pitcher and player of the Week, respectively. The duo helped lead the Cats to the first series sweep of No. 22 LSU in program history.
Bell's weekend included a complete-game eight-inning win in the opener. In the second game, she was brought into the game in relief in the top of the seventh with runners on first and second and UK clinging to a one-run lead with one out. She got the next two batters out to earn her third save of the season. On Senior Day on Sunday, she threw a no-hitter to complete the three-game sweep. It was the fifth no-hitter of her career.
Cervantes had a two-run RBI double and a game-tying solo home run in the first game against LSU. She hit another solo home run in Game 2.
LSU adds 6-foot-8 junior college transfer
Former Iowa State forward Calvin Godfrey is headed to LSU, the third player signed by new Tigers coach Johnny Jones.
The 6-foot-8, 230-pound Godfrey will have two years' eligibility left after spending last season at Howard College in Texas, where he averaged 12.6 points and seven rebounds. Godfrey averaged 5.7 points and 5.4 rebounds for Iowa State as a freshman.
■ Richard Pitino's contract with Florida International lasts for six years, one more than the sides originally agreed to when he took over as men's basketball coach last month. Pitino's base salary of $250,000 annually remains unchanged.
Big East commissioner steps down
Big East Commissioner John Marinatto resigned Monday after less than three years on the job, admitting he was drained by several high-profile defections and mounting pressure from school presidents upset with the departures.
Pittsburgh and Syracuse made plans to leave for the Atlantic Coast Conference in September, and West Virginia bolted for the Big 12 the following month. The Big East regrouped by adding Central Florida, Houston, Memphis, SMU and Temple for all sports and Boise State, San Diego State and Navy for football only.
Marinatto told The Associated Press on Monday that trying to guide the conference through realignment took a physical and mental toll on him. He said he began talking to the conference presidents in mid-April about stepping down.
"I've been running a marathon not only for the last eight months but for the last 2½ years," he said. "As fulfilling as it can be, it is equally draining. All the assets are in place right now (in the Big East). It's probably time for a commercialized kind of perspective. Clearly the collegiate model is dead."
■ A school official with knowledge of the decision said Texas A&M Athletics Director Bill Byrne will announce his retirement on Tuesday. The 66-year-old Byrne was hired at Texas A&M in December 2002. The Aggies are moving from the Big 12 Conference to the Southeastern Conference on July 1.
McClure had concussion, internal bruising
NASCAR driver Eric McClure was released from an Alabama hospital on Monday, two days after he was injured in a crash at Talladega Superspeedway. McClure was airflifted to UAB Medical Center in Birmingham following Saturday's crash in the Nationwide Series race at Talladega Superspeedway. His team said Monday that McClure suffered a concussion and internal bruising in the accident. A statement said he's expected to make a full recovery.
Rangers rally to stun Capitals 3-2
Marc Staal scored a power-play goal 1:35 into overtime after Brad Richards tied it with 7.6 seconds left in regulation to lift the New York Rangers to a 3-2 victory over the Washington Capitals in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Monday night.
The last word
When the horses leave the paddock and get to the track, there are still about 15 minutes of parade time before they load into the starting gate. Each is joined by another horse during the parade time. Taking I'll Have Another to the gate for the Preakness, as he did for the Kentucky Derby, will be Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Doug O'Neill's previously most famous horse, Lava Man, the gelding who won more than $5 million. Said O'Neill:
"If horses talk, and we think they do, then there couldn't be anyone better to lead him out. It 's like having Arnold Palmer as your caddie."