Rory McIlroy took some solace from returning to the top of the world rankings after missing out on a second Wells Fargo Championship title to Rickie Fowler in a play-off.
McIlroy, Fowler and DA Points finished 14 under for the tournament at Quail Hollow yesterday, one stroke ahead of local boy Webb Simpson, and went into a one-hole play-off at the 18th.
And it was Fowler who came out on top, claiming his maiden PGA Tour crown as his birdie bettered the pars of Points and McIlroy, who nevertheless did enough to go back ahead of Luke Donald in the world list.
“That’s nice. It’s a little consolation,” McIlroy said. “I would rather win the tournament, but yeah, it’s good.
“I want to try and play well for the next few weeks and try and solidify my spot there at number one and hopefully start by doing that next week and giving myself another chance to win.”
Fowler closed with a three-under-par 69, McIlroy with a 70 and Points a 71.
That it was those three who went into the play-off was down to the struggles of Simpson, who lives within a mile of the Quail Hollow venue and made most of the running this week, but today could only manage a one-over 73.
That put Points in the driving seat, but his first bogey since Friday on the 18th saw him slip back into a three-way tie along with Fowler and McIlroy, who missed a 15-foot birdie putt at the last.
Fowler won the play-off with his second shot from the fairway, which left him around four feet from the hole.
As his rivals managed tricky two-putts for par, Fowler sank his birdie attempt.
The 23-year-old American, who won on his 72nd attempt, said: “It’s been a wait, but I’m definitely still young, and hopefully this opens the door to many more.
“But it’s nice to be mentioned as a PGA Tour winner.”
The win brought back memories of McIlroy’s first Tour win, which came at the same venue two years ago – albeit in more spectacular fashion as he finished with a course-record 62.
Fowler said: “We’ve always had a great camaraderie, been good buddies. I definitely respect him as a player, and I feel like he respects me as well.
“But I’ve had a lot of fun playing against him.”
England’s Lee Westwood, who made the cut by one stroke, finished with a six-under 66, which included a front nine of 30 and an eagle at the par-five seventh, to claim a share of fifth on 11 under alongside Ryan Moore and Ben Curtis.
His compatriot Brian Davis finished with a 70 for a share of ninth, while Scotland’s Martin Laird was joint 26th after going one under in his final round.