Being Rickie Fowler

By Jason SobelJuly 10, 2011, 3:46 pm

When covering PGA Tour events, credentialed media members without official photo badges aren't allowed to snap pictures. But I couldn't help myself.

It was Saturday of last month’s Memorial Tournament and Rickie Fowler had just finished his round. Amongst a sea of single-digit handicap junior players and wide-eyed teenyboppers all clad in the golfer's favorite creamsicle orange was a middle-aged man. Like his younger peers, he was dressed as if ready for a Fowler-only costume party, his rather large gut protruding from beneath his Puma golf shirt, his head topped by the increasingly iconic flat-bill cap.

So yeah, I took a pic. Couldn't help myself. Sue me, PGA Tour.

The objective of this story isn't to get me in trouble. It's to illustrate a point.

Everybody loves Rickie.

Or so it would seem.

Fowler has quickly become a fan favorite, pushing Phil Mickelson for the unofficial weekly autograph request title, but it’s his lack of another title that has presented detractors in the social media world.

“For the most part, people at tournaments and out watching me play, they’re watching for a reason. I’ve never really had a specific time at a tournament where I’ve had any negative comments from a fan,” Fowler explains. “The people that are saying things or bashing me aren’t the same ones who are at tournaments.”

I can vouch for him. Following last week’s AT&T National, where Fowler parlayed a share of the 54-hole lead into a tie for 13th place, my own Twitter feed was flooded with posts from those taking issue with his game … or his ability to close … or his image … or, well, anything…

Will the golf media ever realize Fowler isn't as good as they want him to be?

Is Rickie Fowler the Natalie Gulbis of mens golf? Colorful outfits, sexy but no wins??

Rickie Fowler: Good golfer for a dirt bike rider or the real deal?

What is it with Fowler? Does he not have mental game to handle lead on Sunday?

I know he's only in his second year, but why does everyone think Rickie Fowler is the next great thing?

Sheesh, being a 22-year-old superstar-golfer-in-the-making isn’t all it’s cracked up to be these days. Especially if you’re a 22-year-old superstar-golfer-in-the-making and you haven’t won anything yet. With his eight-shot U.S. Open victory, Rory McIlroy raised the bar for early success, leaving fellow youngster Fowler left to answer questions about so-called underachievements.

After all, in a season-and-a-half as a PGA Tour member, all Fowler has accomplished is three top-three finishes and nine top-10s in 44 starts, while making the cut in three of four majors and playing nervy golf on foreign soil at the Ryder Cup. Rather than praise his performance, though, many have taken to calling him out for the one thing he’s failed to do thus far: Win.

If he worked on Capitol Hill, the critics would be considered dissenters. If he was a preacher, they’d be nonbelievers.

Instead, Fowler has just one word to describe those who think he’s overrated and oversold.

Haters.

“They’re always going to be around,” he says. “You see it on Twitter quite a bit. It’s funny because it just depends on how you deal with them or don’t deal with them. It can bother a guy, but we talk about it. I’ve mentioned it with [Ian] Poulter and Bubba [Watson], what kind of tweets we get from the haters. It’s something we laugh about. We don’t want to let it get to us.”

We have entered a new age of fandom. Fifty years ago, if you wanted to state your case about the game’s next potential great paling in comparison to his predecessors, you’d have to personally confront Jack Nicklaus and call him “Fat Jack” to his face – a daunting proposition if there ever was one.

With the advent of social media, though, anyone with a smartphone or computer can make their opinions known – often in complete anonymity – a fact that hasn’t gone unnoticed by Fowler.

“People are going to come up with the most random things,” Fowler says. “If someone says something bad, there’s always that nice little ‘block’ button.”

For as much as the in-person worship seems a bit uneven for a player who has yet to win a tournament, the online animosity toward him for the very same reason feels disproportionate, as well. Of course, the latter is a direct correlation of the former. The more Fowler is adulated by the press and idolized by the public, the more those “haters” resent the notion that his performance has yet to live up to his potential.

Such vehemence certainly has little to do with Fowler’s personality. He may dress flashy, but he leads the Tour in “yes, sir” and “no, ma’am” responses. Like his friend McIlroy, he is a self-made kid from a modest background. And also like Rory, he deals with adversity in the most endearing way possible.

When McIlroy turned a Masters lead going into the back nine on Sunday into a 15th-place finish, he saved face and earned support with his post-round perspective: “This is my first experience at it, and hopefully the next time I'm in this position I'll be able to handle it a little better.”

Granted, it was a smaller event and therefore less disappointing, but Fowler’s words after losing the AT&T were eerily familiar: “Just a tough day, but I learned a lot. It was great to be in that position. You know, it's good to see what other guys do in the same situation and how they handle themselves.”

The similarities between their reactions weren’t just a coincidence, either.

“To see what he went through, obviously it was multiplied by a good amount and tougher to deal with than mine, because he had a decisive lead at the Masters and I was tied for the lead at a normal Tour event,” Fowler says, “but seeing how he handled it and went on to play at the U.S. Open, I felt I was in a similar position and had to take the positives from the week.”

“I think it’s very important to deal with it that way,” says Fowler’s caddie Joe Skovron. “It’s a process and you keep learning from it. That’s what makes guys like Rickie and Rory so good. They take it and deal with it and then move on. They don’t think about what they missed out on. Just go try to play better and win the next one.”

The next one comes this week at Royal St. George’s, site of the Open Championship. In his first start at the world’s most venerable tournament, Fowler finished in a share of 14th place last year. He would love to follow in McIlroy’s footsteps, erasing a setback by clinching that elusive victory.

If he doesn’t, Fowler will still have hordes of fans following his every move, craning for a glimpse of him and begging for autographs while the haters continue to post their doubts in the virtual world. And if he does? Those throngs of orange-clad supporters will grow even bigger and the haters may finally be silenced – for a little while, at least.

Getty Images

Rose leads halted Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters when bad weather stopped play Friday during the second round.

The Englishman, who shot a 10-under 62 on Thursday, had completed 13 holes and was 5 under on the day at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat (64) was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew wit on the 11th hole at 2 under for the day after shooting an opening 72.

There was no reason given for his withdrawal, but the American has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.


Playing with the pros

Tiger, DJ and Faxon

Article: Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

Article: After DJ and Tiger, Trump plays golf with Jack

Rory faces criticism

Article: Rory: Round with Trump about respect for presidency

Article: Rory: Round with Trump not a 'political statement'


President at the Presidents Cup


Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

Article: President Trump presents trophy to U.S. team

Article: Stricker: 'Great thrill' to get trophy from Trump


Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

Article: Senator tweets Trump shot 73 in windy, wet conditions

Article: Graham offers details on Trump's round of 73


Cart on the green


Article: Trump appears to drive cart on Bedminster green


Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open


Article: Trump makes presidential history at Women's Open

Article: Trump supporters, protesters clash near Women's Open

Article: UltraViolet takes protest inside Trump National


Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open


Trump golf properties

Vandalism

Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

Article: Man accused of vandalizing four Trump courses

Finances


Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

Article: Eric Trump denies Russia helped fund golf courses

Article: Trump company ordered to pay $5.77M in dues dispute

Reportedly fake TIME covers


Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover


Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

Report: Trump's voter fraud claim tied to Langer

Langer: Trump 'apologized' for story mix-up


Pros comment on the president

Article: Players defend Trump at Senior PGA Championship

Article: Trump congratulates Daly; Daly congratulates Trump

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.