Fowler lives life in the fast lane

By Randall MellFebruary 28, 2013, 12:09 am

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Rickie Fowler can find another gear.

Just ask Justin Rose.

Fowler, 24, impressed Rose with his racing skills Tuesday at the Palm Beach International Raceway, where they took part in a Ferrari racing experience just down the road from the Honda Classic, this week’s PGA Tour stop.

“You can tell that kid has racing in his blood,” Rose said. “He showed up with his own helmet.”

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Actually, Fowler has his own fleet of fast cars, too, though he wasn’t racing any of them this week. He has a Porsche GT3-RS, a Mitsubishi Evo and a Nissan GT-R. Fowler grew up racing motocross, and he hasn’t lost his need for speed. He regularly takes a car out to the Palm Beach track to hone his skills.

“He’s awesome,” Rose said. “I learned a little bit about what racing’s all about from him.”

It’s a good thing Ian Poulter didn’t arrive until Fowler was leaving. The track officials weren’t keeping lap times, but they would have had a hard time keeping Poulter and Fowler from wanting to see who’s faster. Poulter’s also quite the racing enthusiast with his own collection of cars.

“The guys were itching to put up times, but it’s a good thing they weren’t doing that,” Rose said. “As competitive as we all are . . . The name of the game was to keep from putting a Ferrari into a wall and injuring ourselves.”

The racing theme spilled into Wednesday’s Honda Classic pro-am. Fowler was paired with Graham Rahal, the IndyCar driver and son of Bobby Rahal, winner of the ’86 Indianapolis 500.

“We talked racing the whole way around,” Graham said.

Fowler’s need for speed was evident in how quickly he got himself on to the Tour. After foregoing his final two years at Oklahoma State, Fowler turned pro in the fall of ’09. He tied for seventh in his first Tour event as a pro, and he lost his second start in a playoff. Fowler blew through Q-School that winter to get his Tour card. He didn’t back off the gas as a rookie, finishing 22nd on the money list and at 21, became the youngest American to make a Ryder Cup team.

The problem with that fast start is that it escalated expectations.

As good as Fowler was his first two seasons, he didn’t win.

“I think Rickie’s two biggest strengths are, one, he can pull the trigger on shots without fear of consequence,” said Joe Skovron, Fowler’s caddie. “He just isn’t afraid of failure. The other is that he’s able to move on fast [when things don’t work out]. I think when you’ve grown up in motocross, where you can break an arm, or break your neck, it definitely translates to no fear of consequences in golf.”

Fowler found his winning gear last year, breaking through to win the Wells Fargo Championship in the spring.

“Because of his high profile, because of how close he had come to winning, it was huge in that it got the whole question of when he was going to win out of the way,” Skovron said.

Fowler had a terrific run last spring. He tied for 10th at the Zurich Classic, claimed the Wells Fargo the following week, finished second the week after that at The Players Championship and then tied for fifth at Colonial in his next start after that.

Though Fowler looked set up to make another Ryder Cup team, he lost all his momentum in the summer, a fall off that was later explained by a back injury that Fowler had kept to himself. He played through irritating inflammation in his lower back until the pain in October forced him to withdraw from the Korean Open and the CIMB Asia Pacific.

“I’m still working on my back, still trying to get it 100 percent, but I’m swinging it really well,” Fowler said after his pro-am round Wednesday. “I’ve had a couple good finishes this year, and I’m really looking forward to the Florida swing.”

Fowler opened this season tying for sixth at the Hyundai Tournament of Championship and tying for sixth at the Farmers Insurance Open. There is some good mojo this week. After missing the cut in his first two Honda Classics, he tied for seventh here last year. It’s a home game for him. He moved to Jupiter two years ago and lives 15 minutes from the course. A regular at Medalist and the Bear’s Club, Fowler plays games with fellow South Floridians Dustin Johnson and Keegan Bradley, and occasionally even Tiger Woods. With Rory McIlroy moving to Palm Beach Gardens this winter, Fowler will be looking to set up a game with him, too.

“It’s good for all of us to be able to feed off each other, to have games when we’re home, whether it’s a best ball or skins,” Fowler said.

Fowler would like to claim backyard bragging rights with his second Tour title this week.

Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

Leaderboard: Cameron Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Jason Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

What it means: Jordan Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.

Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday. 

Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 2:50 am

Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.

Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 2:32 am

SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.

Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.

''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.

But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.

In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.

''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''

Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.

The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.

''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''

NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.

Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

"He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

"I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

"From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

"And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

"There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."