Fowler knows Ma­jor vic­tory is well within ca­pa­bil­i­ties

Hogg will be cap­tain in Hous­ton

Evening Telegraph (Late Extra Edition) - - SPORTS -

THE Play­ers Cham­pi­onship may never achieve its am­bi­tion of be­com­ing the fifth Ma­jor, but Rickie Fowler feels his 2015 vic­tory at Saw­grass proves he will win one of the game’s four big­gest ti­tles.

Fowler has recorded mul­ti­ple top-fives in all four Ma­jors, the most re­cent be­ing a runners-up fin­ish be­hind Ry­der Cup team­mate Pa­trick Reed in the Masters in April.

And after ex­ten­sive prepa­ra­tion ahead of the 118th US Open at Shin­necock Hills, the 29-year-old was in bullish mood about his prospects of avoid­ing the dreaded tag of “best player never to win a Ma­jor”.

“There are some scores that I’ve shot that have been good enough to win Ma­jors, but we haven’t been able to get it done that spe­cific week,” Fowler said.

“At the same time, I like to look at it as that I’m good enough and I ba­si­cally won a Ma­jor. I won the Play­ers against, ar­guably, the best field we play all year on a golf course that is a very good test as well.

“We all know I’m good enough to win. I know I’m good enough to win. Be­ing pre­pared and mak­ing it hap­pen that spe­cific week, there’s been a few guys that have been very good at that – Jack (Nick­laus), Tiger (Woods).

“Phil (Mick­el­son) didn’t get his first for a while, so there’s still hope. I’m not too wor­ried about it. I’m ex­cited about some of these cour­ses that we have com­ing up, es­pe­cially this week. But in the com­ing years, we have some great Ma­jor venues.

“Au­gusta is one of my favourites and I have had suc­cess there. It would be nice to throw on a (green) jacket at some point, but we’ll keep do­ing what we’re do­ing. I’m def­i­nitely not try­ing to put any ex­tra pres­sure on.

“We’ll get it done, and once we get our first, it’s def­i­nitely not go­ing to be the last.”

Fowler was among the early starters in to­day’s first round, the world No 7 tee­ing off at 8.13am lo­cal time (1.13pm BST) along­side Hideki Mat­suyama and Marc Leish­man.

Rory Mcil­roy, mean­while, would love to see Phil Mick­el­son com­plete the ca­reer grand slam at Shin­necock Hills, with one cru­cial caveat.

“If I wasn’t play­ing and just purely as a fan of golf, I’d love to see Phil win this week be­cause it’s great for the game,” Mcil­roy said.

Mcil­roy, who needs to win the Masters to com­plete a full set of Ma­jor ti­tles, will play along­side Mick­el­son and Jor­dan Spi­eth in the first two rounds. STU­ART Hogg (above) will cap­tain Scot­land for the first time when they take on the USA in Hous­ton on Satur­day.

Dark Blues head coach Gre­gor Townsend has named a re­vamped start­ing XV fol­low­ing last week­end’s 48-10 win over Canada – with seven play­ers set to win their first caps.

Hogg’s Glas­gow team­mates Matt Fager­son and Ge­orge Horne will make their in­ter­na­tional bows along­side their el­der brothers, with back-row Fager­son joined by prop Zan­der and scrum-half Horne lin­ing-up along­side in­side cen­tre Pete.

There will also be de­buts for the Glas­gow trio Jamie Bhatti, Ge­orge Turner and Adam Hast­ings.

Rickie Fowler is seek­ing a first Ma­jor.

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