Ready to break through
After plenty of close calls, Fowler looking for signature win
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.
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.