2015 Preview: Rickie Fowler
Welcome to the 2015 Golf Preview, where I’ll take a look at selected golfers and examine what to expect over the next twelve months. Today, we look at Rickie Fowler.
After a successful amateur career, Rickie Fowler turned pro in 2009 and made his full time debut on the PGA Tour in 2010 where his strong play led him to Rookie of the Year honours and appearing in his first ever Ryder Cup. In 2011, Fowler was able to claim his first ever professional win, taking the Kolon Korea Open and the following year, secured his first and only PGA Tour win to date at the Wells Fargo. 2013 was another decent year for Fowler, but he decided that it was time to make a change and went to Butch Harmon for help with his swing.
Fowler’s big problem over the years was a tendency to be wildly inconsistent, and not just from tournament to tournament. In a lot of cases, it went from round to round and even hole to hole, as the big blowups would ruin an otherwise solid round. His Sunday 84 when paired with Tiger Woods at the 2012 Memorial is the most famous example of that, and while Fowler still showed those inconsistencies in 2014, with eight missed cuts in 26 starts, his overall play was better than ever.
Fowler’s run in the majors, where he joined Tiger and Jack Nicklaus as the only players to finish in the top-5 of all four majors in a calendar year, was incredible, but there’s more to it than just that. In his final eleven starts of 2014, Fowler finished no worse than a tie for 23rd, and in that stretch, he was only over par in three of his 44 rounds played. Making that even better is that it’s not like he was playing in the easier events on the PGA Tour either, as those eleven events included three majors, the entire FedEx Cup playoffs, two WGC events, the Scottish Open and the St. Jude.
He might not have won in 2014, but that kind of consistently incredible play is very, very difficult to achieve and we should be expecting big things from Fowler in 2015.
ESPN’s Rickie Fowler Headshot
ESPN.com has a lot of great golf content, but their player headshots are, shall we say, a little outdated, with Ryan Moore leading the way. As such, I’m introducing the Ryan Moore headshot ranking system. Each player will get a ranking from 1-10, with 10 being the most outdated possible.
Okay, so this picture is actually only four years old because the vomit inducing hat that Fowler’s wearing is from the 2010 Ryder Cup, but man, this seems like soooo long ago. In the time since this photo has been taken, Fowler’s changed his appearance more than Tiger’s tweaked his swing. We’ve had Pirate Rickie:
“I’m trying to keep my facial hair groomed” Rickie
“Clean shaven” Rickie
And Dick Fowler PI
Admittedly, it’s difficult for ESPN to keep up with all of Fowler’s changes, but this one’s up there.
Why You Should Watch
Expecting Fowler to keep up the run he had late in 2014, or to be the American foe to Rory McIlroy, is probably unrealistic, but the fact remains that he’s really, really good and at just 26 years old, we’re going to be seeing plenty of him over the next decade and a bit. He’s one of those players who just seems to “get it” and doesn’t take himself too seriously while he’s out there, which is just one of the reasons why he’s become one of the most popular players on the PGA Tour.
Fowler in one GIF
There’s probably an age limit on when you want to be seen like this in public, but this kid falls within it. Fowler has been accused in the past of being a guy who’s known more for his style than substance, with Johnny Miller’s “so far it’s been big hat, no cattle” remark sticking out vividly, but there’s no denying his popularity with younger kids and with the way he played last year, he proved that there’s more than enough substance as well.
When does he get that second win?
Part of what Miller said above is correct in that Fowler probably hasn’t had the kind of success that was expected of him earlier in his career, but I think he’s just a perfect reminder of how difficult golf really is, even at the pro level. The fact is that Fowler is currently ranked inside the top-10 in the world, and personally, I’m a strong believer in the idea that what he did last year was far more impressive than grabbing one win and posting a few other top-10’s. That kind of consistent quality is pretty much never seen and it just leads me to believe that he’s going to get that second PGA Tour win in 2015, and there’s no reason to believe that it can’t be a major either.