Once a contender in majors, Fowler now needs help getting in
There was a time when being side by side with Tiger Woods in a major was a good sign. That wasn't the case with Rickie Fowler, mainly because they weren't near a golf course.
Woods watched the Masters from his home in Florida as he recovered from broken bones in his legs, the worst of more than a decade of injuries. Fowler watched with him because he was out of play for the first time in a decade.
At least he gets a chance in the PGA Championship on Kiawah Island thanks to a special invitation that got more exposure than it was warranted, largely because of who he is.
It remains to be decided if Fowler will be at the US Open in Torrey Pines next month. He hasn't missed it since his rookie year when he didn't make it through qualifying.
"It was humble," said Fowler. "For someone who has been positive, going through a rock bottom for so long tests all facets of life."
Since his last victory at the Phoenix Open, he has competed in 49 tournaments worldwide and is 8th in the world. He's completed 29 tournaments since he last made the American Express top 10. That tournament put him back in the top 25.
He is now # 122, his lowest rank in more than 11 years. He goes into the PGA championship after missing his last two cuts. Now the task is to find the way back, which can either be described as a process, a journey or a grind.
“You can choose them all. It was a little bit of everything, ”said Fowler. “A big part of it was playing too much golf swing, which had to be done early. But I think it took too long. Now it's back to playing golf and scoring shots. "
The invitation to the PGA championship was not surprising. The PGA of America takes players from the last Ryder Cup team if they're still in the top 100 in the world - Fowler was just outside the top at that point - and every player just outside the top 100 to make sure no one is there there is the top 100 cracking at the last minute.
Most of all, Fowler stands out for its popularity, which has resulted in some of the largest advertising deals with no lack of advertising. Fowler gets people's attention. It's not always a good thing.
Jordan Spieth can relate. He went three full seasons without winning when he dealt with the first real fight he had in golf. Spieth finally turned it around earlier this year and crowned it with a win at the Texas Open.
"For him - and I think for myself too - the hardest thing about fighting is when you have had a lot of success and then it is almost impossible to fight in silence, in the dark," said Spieth. "There will just be so much noise and so much emphasis on the results compared to realizing what your ultimate goal is and how much time it can take to golf."
The move began in late 2019 when Fowler decided to move coach from Butch Harmon to John Tillery, who also works with Kevin Kisner. It didn't help that the Gulf was shut down for three months during the COVID-19 pandemic. The further he fell, the greater the struggle.
"It's not that he gives me bad information or we're working on the wrong things," said Fowler. “We're all out here trying to get better. Sometimes it doesn't work out as quickly as you want. It's unfortunate that it took so long. At the same time, it was humble. You learn a lot when that is you Things that can make or break you, they test you.
"I'm still upright and moving forward."
Nick Faldo punched Fowler for failing to make it to the Masters and suggested in a tweet that he would have more time to do commercials with his many sponsors.
Faldo later said he tried to motivate him. Fowler didn't bother to answer even when he was pressed. With nine global wins including The Players Championship and a FedEx Cup playoff event, perhaps the 32-year-old Californian’s biggest attribute is always polite.
That's because I grew up in a family that rarely spoke negative words. His father Rod says one of the early influences on his son was seven-time supercross champion Jeremy McGrath. “Rickie grew up around him. Jeremy was very humble. He let his bike do the talking, ”said Rod Fowler.
The clubs have been silent lately.
Barring a few excruciating injuries that slowed Fowler down, this is his first real fight. Fowler said he had close friends who would ask him if everything was okay outside of the ropes, and that's just as frustrating as anything else. He married Allison Stokke in the fall of 2019, who competes with him in positive thinking.
"You get people from the outside making comments," Because of that, it has to be something at home. "My life is great," said Fowler with a big grin. "I'm not getting the ball into the hole very well right now."
Fowler's last top 10 in a major was two years ago at Royal Portrush, which earned him a spot in this year's British Open at Royal St. George's. He finished second in the majors three times and had a 50-foot eagle putt on the final hole of the 2014 PGA championship that would have forced a playoff with Rory McIlroy. He putted three and finished third.
McIlroy said burglaries can end without notice, though rarely without work. Fowler feels he has invested a lot of time. He's still waiting for it to pay off.
"Rickie always sees the brighter side of things," said former PGA champion and golf savant Jason Dufner. "I know he didn't do his best. I know he can go around the corner. I never think it's as far away as people think."
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