What were you up to ten years ago? The iPhone 5 was introduced in 2012, Carly Rae Jepsen’s song “Call Me Maybe” topped the Billboard 100, and I was trying to pass AP Physics. Rickie Fowler, on the other hand, was on his way to winning his first PGA Tour tournament.
It’s hard to believe it’s been ten years since Fowler’s thrilling playoff victory at the Wells Fargo Championship. At Quail Hollow Golf Club, the youthful phenom with floppy hair and fluorescent orange from head to toe beat Rory McIlroy and D.A. Points, despite being only 23 years old at the time. The floodgates appeared to have opened for the 2010 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, as high expectations were finally met — except they weren’t. Fowler struggled for the rest of the year, finishing in the top five only once on the PGA Tour.
The next year, everything started to fall into place for Fowler, who became the first player since Vijay Singh in 2005 to finish in the top five of every major event without winning one. Despite the fact that it is a rare distinction that not all players enjoy, Fowler accepted it in stride, choosing to look on the bright side of things. Fast forward to now, and Fowler is still doing a lot of the same things, though under very different circumstances.
Fowler, who is now ranked 146th in the Official World Golf Rankings, will play in this year’s Wells Fargo Championship at TPC Potomac in search of something far more crucial than his first career victory: confidence.
“For me, yeah, there have been times when it has been tough as far as confidence goes, but I feel like we have had plenty of good moments in the last six months to know that it’s still there,” Fowler said to Garrett Johnston on the Beyond the Clubhouse Podcast. “Unfortunately, it hasn’t been anywhere near as consistent as we want it to be. But I just keep looking at the glass half full and moving forward.”
Fowler’s troubles have been well-documented, as he has changed his swing and enlisted the assistance of instructor John Tillery. He has only two top-five finishes on the PGA Tour since the start of 2020, both of which occurred in small fields. Despite his game’s lack of consistency, Fowler stays devoted to the task.
“I definitely feel like I’m headed in the right direction. It’s been a tough couple of years trying to grind through things and work on some changes and ultimately feel comfortable,” he stated. “Yeah, I would say I’m still disappointed. I obviously want to see better results and be in a better position, but it’s just part of the process and I’ve gotta keep moving forward.”
From the outside looking in, Fowler’s 2022 season has been a disaster, with him missing five of eight cuts and failing to crack the top 40 on any leaderboard, but a closer look at his data reveals that his hard work is finally paying off. Since January, the new father has improved his iron play, gaining strokes on approach in six of eight starts, notably his past three. In terms of closeness from 175 to 200 yards, he is in the top ten in this Wells Fargo Championship field, demonstrating that his mid-irons have been reliable throughout the last three months.
His scoring clubs are in good shape, but his former strength of putting has turned into his biggest flaw. Golf is frequently compared to spinning plates. With all of the focus on Fowler’s full swing, the five-time PGA Tour winner has forgotten about his putter, which has tumbled to the ground and shattered into a million pieces.
On Tuesday, Fowler played a practice round at TPC Potomac alongside Morgan Hoffman, Peter Uihlein, and current Oklahoma State Cowboy Eugenio Chacarra. His iron play was impressive, but his greens pace was iffy at best. Throughout the year, he has been trying out new putter types, new heads, and rotating between a mallet style and a classic blade in quest of solutions.
For the second summer in a row, the 33-year-old is on the verge of missing out on the FedEx Cup Playoffs, as he is firmly on the bubble more than halfway through the season. With a 133rd-place finish in the season-long standings, maybe, just maybe, Fowler can build on his previous T3 and 12th-place finishes under the shadows of our nation’s capital and drive himself into the PGA Tour’s lengthy summer of golf.
“I probably have the best understanding of my swing and the tendencies and what causes what now more so than I ever have, but that doesn’t mean that it is all of sudden going to work,” Fowler said. “It’s still a very tough and humbling game, so having the understanding is one thing, but being able to go out there and execute and do that consistently is the next step, but I feel that we are in a good spot and heading in that direction.”
Original article posted on CBS.