CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Rickie Fowler finally picked up his first PGA Tour win Sunday in what might be the start of a rivalry for years to come.
Fowler brought style and substance to a sudden-death playoff at Quail Hollow and delivered a clutch shot — a wedge into 4 feet to birdie the 18th hole and win the Wells Fargo Championship over U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy and D.A. Points.
The 23-year-old Fowler has been talked about as the next American star since he turned pro with his flashy colors and all-orange outfit on Sunday, his trademark. Now he has a trophy to back up the hype, coming in his 67th start as a pro on the PGA Tour.
And he beat the 23-year-old McIlroy to do it.
“I’m looking forward to playing with Rory for a long time,” said Flower, who closed with a 3-under 69. “It’s awesome. It’s a long wait, but well worth it.”
McIlroy established himself on the same green two years ago, a 20-year-old who closed out a record 62 by making a 40-foot putt. This time, it was Fowler’s turn.
Along for the ride was Points, a 35-year-old who had the tournament in his grasp until ending 40 straight holes without a bogey by making one at the worst time. He had a one-shot lead going to the 18th in regulation, hit his approach in a bunker and never came close to a par.
McIlroy had a shot at winning in regulation and missed a 15-foot birdie putt.
In the playoff, all three hit the fairway, with McIlroy hitting a 3-wood that traveled nearly 340 yards. Fowler’s wedge covered the flag and spun some 4 feet away. Points went long and did well to two-putt for his par, making the second one from 12 feet. McIlroy hit his wedge well right of the flag and had to work hard for a two-putt par. That set the stage for Fowler, and he wasn’t about to let this chance get away.
Even though they’re the same age, McIlroy has a two-year head start on Fowler. They were in the Walker Cup together in 2007, and McIlroy turned pro that fall. Fowler didn’t turn pro until two years ago.
The only other time Fowler won as a pro was last year at the Korea Open, where he also beat McIlroy.
McIlroy closed with a 70, and Points shot a 71.
INSPERITY CHAMPIONSHIP: Fred Funk birdied the final hole for a 5-under 67 and a one-stroke victory over Tom Lehman in the Champions Tour’s Insperity Championship at The Woodlands, Texas.
Tied with one hole left, Funk hit his approach on No. 18 to 2 feet. Lehman missed his birdie putt, and Funk tapped in for his seventh victory on the 50-and-over tour first since 2010. He finished at 14-under 202 total.
The 55-year-old Funk added one more good memory at the Woodlands Country Club, where he won the Houston Open in 1992 for his first win on the regular tour. He met his second wife, Sharon, at a post-tournament event that year and Sharon was the first to run onto the green and congratulate him Sunday.
Funk became the first player in five years to win a regular tour and Champions Tour event on the same course. Tom Watson won the 1980 British Open and 2007 Senior British Open at Muirfield.
Lehman closed with a 68. Mike Goodes (70) finished third at 10 under, and Michael Allen (71) was in a group at 8 under. Allen, the season points leader, was seeking his third straight tour victory.
LPGA BRAZIL CUP: Thailand’s Pornanong Phatlum won the LPGA Tour’s Brazil Cup exhibition event, shooting a bogey-free 6-under 67 for a four-stroke victory over Taiwan’s Amy Hung in Rio De Janeiro.
Phatlum finished at 13-under 133 in the two-day, 30-player tournament at Itanhanga Golf Club. She had five birdies on the front nine to pull away. Her brother, Pornpong, caddied for her.
Hung shot an 8-under 65, the best round of the event.
Paula Creamer eagled the par-5 ninth hole, but gave it back with two bogeys on the back nine and finished with a 69 to tie for third with Chella Choi at 8 under.
France’s Karine Icher, tied with Phatlum for the first-round lead, had a 73 to join Amanda Blumenherst (67), Brittany Lang (71), Candie Kung (71) and Katie Futcher (72) at 7 under.
STADION CLASSIC: Former University of Georgia player Hudson Swafford won the Stadion Classic on his old college course, closing with a 9-under 62 for a one-stroke victory in Athens, Ga.
The tour rookie holed out from a greenside bunker for birdie on the par-4 18th to post 17-under 267, then had to wait 90 minutes for the rest of the players to complete the round.
Two-time U.S. Open champion Lee Janzen and Luke List, coming off a victory last week in the South Georgia Classic, each shot 65 to tie for second. Janzen birdied the final five holes and seven of the last eight. List birdied the 17th for a share of the lead, but hit a tree with his approach on 18 and closed with a bogey.
Swafford earned $99,000 for his first tour victory to jump from 61st to seventh on the money list with $122,123. The final top 25 on the money list will earn 2013 PGA Tour cards.
SPANISH OPEN: Italy’s Francesco Molinari won the 100th Spanish Open for his third career European Tour title, finishing with a 7-under 65 for a three-stroke victory in Seville.
Molinari had an 8-under 280 total at Real Club de Golf de Sevilla. Spaniards Pablo Larrazabal (71) and Alejandro Canizares (69) and Denmark’s Soren Kjeldsen (69) tied for second.