Ready to break through

Af­ter plenty of close calls, Fowler look­ing for sig­na­ture win

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - SPORTS -

Rickie Fowler is more than just a brand.

He showed that a year ago with top-five fin­ishes at all four ma­jors. He shook off the la­bel of un­der­achiever with a daz­zling vic­tory at The Play­ers Cham­pi­onship. Then, just last week­end, he ripped up the links to win the Scot­tish Open.

No won­der Fowler keeps get­ting thrown into the mix when peo­ple dis­cuss the bud­ding ri­valry be­tween Jor­dan Spi­eth and Rory McIl­roy.

“We’ve al­ready got the big two,” said no less an au­thor­ity than Nick Faldo, a six-time ma­jor cham­pion. “If you want, put Rickie in there as well.” High praise, in­deed. Yet, there’s still a nag­ging sense that Fowler needs a bit more sub­stance to go with all the hype. Six years af­ter he ar­rived on the PGA Tour with a head­ful of un­ruly hair and a big endorsement deal, he has yet to cap­ture a truly sig­na­ture win, the sort of tri­umph that would stamp him as a full-fledged ri­val to his fel­low 20-some­things.

“A good start would be to be­come a ma­jor cham­pion,” Fowler said Tues­day, a blunt af­fir­ma­tion of what most ev­ery­one in the Bri­tish Open in­ter­view room was al­ready think­ing.

McIl­roy, who is about five months younger than the 26year-old Fowler, al­ready has four ma­jor ti­tles and needs only the Mas­ters to com­plete a ca­reer Grand Slam.

Spi­eth, just 21, cap­tured the first two ma­jors this sea­son and ar­rived at St. An­drews look­ing to take another step to­ward be­com­ing the first player to win the mod­ern Grand Slam.

“Jor­dan has been play­ing amaz­ing golf, and Rory has been do­ing that for quite some time,” Fowler said. “I do have some work to do. I need to con­tinue win­ning. I think that’s the big­gest thing: putting my­self in po­si­tion to win.”

Fowler has cer­tainly been a con­tender in golf ’s big­gest events, though the mo­men­tum from his Play­ers’ win was tem­pered when he missed the cut at last month’s U.S. Open, his hopes ef­fec­tively dashed when he opened with an 81 at Cham­bers Bay.

Af­ter a cou­ple of weeks off, he turned his at­ten­tion to Scot­land.

In no time at all, he felt as though his game was back to where he wanted it to be.

“It was nice to kind of quickly put that (U.S. Open) be­hind me,” Fowler said.

Five years ago, he made his Bri­tish Open de­but at the Old Course. The first day was bru­tal - a 79 that left him pri­mar­ily fo­cused on mak­ing the cut - but he bounced back with a pair of 67s sand­wiched around a 71, leav­ing him in a tie for 14th place.

Ever since, he’s been con­fi­dent of his chances on a links course.

AP PHOTO

United States’ Rickie Fowler fol­lows a shot dur­ing a prac­tice round at the Bri­tish Open Golf Cham­pi­onship at the Old Course, St. An­drews, Scot­land, Tues­day.

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