CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Rickie Fowler has never been afraid to put it all on the line.

The thrill-seeking passion for motocross as a teenager. The head-turning clothing he brought to the PGA Tour as a rookie, such as the bright orange ensemble from head to toe on Sundays. With a chance to finally break through for his first PGA Tour win, the kid showed his true colors.

In a three-way playoff that featured U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy, the 23-year-old Fowler gambled with a 51-degree wedge that had to be perfect on an 18th hole at Quail Hollow that had yielded only four birdies all day. And it was.

Fowler stuffed his shot to 4 feet for a birdie on the first extra hole to beat McIlroy and D.A. Points and win the Wells Fargo Championship Sunday. It was his first PGA Tour win in his 67th start as a pro, bringing him a small measure of relief and a big dose of credibility.

"I didn't want to play it safe," Fowler said. "I had a good number [133 yards], and I was aiming right of the hole with the wind coming out of the right, and if I hit a perfect shot, it comes down right on the stick . . . I hit a perfect shot at the right time, and I was going for it."

McIlroy, who returned to No. 1 in the world, used Quail Hollow as a launching pad toward stardom when he won here two years ago. Perhaps this is the start of a rivalry for years between a pair of 23-year-olds who bring power, flair and exuberance to the game.

"I'm looking forward to playing with Rory for a long time," said Fowler, who closed with a 3-under-par 69.

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