A navy blazer.
Of all the things that came with Rickie Fowlers sudden-death victory over Rory McIlroy and D.A. Points in the Wells Fargo Championship on Sunday the co-joined emotions of relief and satisfaction, the $1.17 million paycheck and the as-good-as-it-gets birdie to win his first PGA Tour victory golfs rainbow kid was handed a navy blazer to slip on over his impossibly orange outfit.
Thats like putting brown lights on a Christmas tree.
At least it matched, Fowler said, the smile on his face as hard to hide as the outfit he traditionally wears on Sunday to honor his alma mater, Oklahoma State.
If there had been a gentle knock on him before he stared down the worlds new No. 1 golfer and a veteran who refused to hit a bad shot until the end, it was that style surpassed substance on his resume. He has inspired a legion of youngsters to wear flat-brim caps and colors you can only find in Crayolas 64-crayon box, but well into his third PGA Tour season Fowler, 23, still lacked a victory.
He had been close and had conquered McIlroy for a title in Korea last year, but he hadnt won on the PGA Tour. Fowler had expected winning to be difficult and hadnt let the elusive chase consume him yet. But the question was there, beyond the long hair, the graciousness with fans and the Golf Boys video.
I definitely knew I was good enough and it was just getting everything to come together and stay patient, Fowler said after shooting 14-under-par 274 and capping the tournament with a birdie on his 73rd hole.
Fowler pointed to Friday, not Sunday afternoon, as the time that was key to winning the Wells Fargo Championship. After opening with a 66 on Thursday, he was adrift in the second round. His second-round 72 didnt look impressive to anyone but Fowler, who understood how much worse it could have been.
It was why he was there Sunday when Quail Hollow turned tough.
Club member Webb Simpson brought a one-stroke lead into the final round but couldnt hold it, undone by a disobedient driver that left him one shot short of the three-man playoff.
McIlroy, who started the day two back, made his challenge more difficult with two early bogeys and a haunting mistake at the par-4 11th, where he made a bogey with a wedge from the fairway. It kept him from becoming the first two-time winner in the 10-year history of the event.
Then there was Points, whose lone tour victory came last year at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, where he was overshadowed by his amateur partner; actor Bill Murray won the pro-am portion of the tournament.
Points was the steadiest player Sunday, stretching his string of consecutive holes without a bogey to 40 before making a victory-killing five at the unforgiving par-4 18th. He put his second shot in a greenside bunker.
It was Fowler who found a way to win.
That seemed unlikely when he bogeyed the par-4 16th, playing from bunker to bunker to drop a shot behind Points and McIlroy as they came through Quail Hollows Green Mile.
But McIlroy bogeyed the 17th after a poor tee shot and Points missed his chance with the bogey at 18.
In the playoff, after all three players hit beautiful drives into the 18th fairway, Fowler took dead aim. Points had hit his approach behind the hole, forcing him to putt defensively from 25 feet away. McIlroy pushed his approach 20 feet right of hole.
Fowler, 133 yards from the hole, trusted a helping wind to carry his 51-degree wedge shot over the edge of a creek and land the ball on the left front knob on the putting surface.
If I dont hit it perfectly, then I land short and Im in the creek, Fowler said. But playing against those two guys, I know theyre going to make birdie at some point and I dont want to sit there and try to make pars and stay in it. I wanted to make a birdie.
On a hole that had surrendered only four birdies all day, Fowler stuck his wedge shot 4 feet from the hole and buried the first-win questions with the putt.
For Rickie to play that hole the way he did, he deserved to win, McIlroy said.
Watching from behind the green were Fowlers tour friends Ben Crane and Aaron Baddeley, along with his girlfriend Alexandra Browne and his mother, Lynne Fowler.
Hes done an incredible job with how hes handled things. Hes such a clutch player, Crane said. We dont talk about (the burden of winning). We all know its in his mind. He was going to seal one of these off. To do it at such a great event against one of the best fields we faced and to play two perfect shots like that was a pretty cool way to do it.
For all his flashy clothes, his long hair and the vibe he projects, Fowler is understated. He is polite, unassuming and deferential. At a private dinner hosted by Phil Mickelson on Saturday night, Fowler enjoyed the revelry with 30 or 40 others, but he wasnt near the center of attention, preferring to sit quietly with Browne and a few others.
But his golf game built on a whip-quick swing that relies heavily on hand action and imagination can be as vivid as his wardrobe.
Hes not a big talker. He kind of just goes day by day, Fowlers mother said standing on the 18th green after his victory.
Its definitely been a work in progress for him to get this one out of the way. Hes been comfortable with how much hes been through and what hes accomplished early on. He was just meant to do this. I think he was born and blessed to be here. He knew where he was going and what he was going to do.
And he liked the blue blazer.