Fowler comes a long way in a short time


Ryder Cup

NEWPORT, Wales – Rickie Fowler knows what it’s like for an American golfer to win a cup on European soil.

Never mind that he’s only 21, and the first PGA Tour rookie to make the Ryder Cup team. And that experience came in amateur matches, the Walker Cup three years ago at Royal County Down where Fowler was the youngest player on the team and went 3-1.

“I played well in Ireland, and it was a similar stage,” he said Wednesday. “But this is multiplied by 10, 20 or 30.”

Fowler and rest of the Ryder Cup players headed out for a wet day of practice with the start of the matches two days away. It rained overnight and continued into the morning, leaving Celtic Manor wet and sloppy.

Fowler was to play in the same group as Tiger Woods, which was enough to get his attention. They did a commercial shoot earlier this year for a video game – with a Ryder Cup theme, no less – but Fowler has never played with the world’s No. 1 player.

In the final tournament before U.S. captain Corey Pavin made his picks, Woods hinted that Fowler would get plenty of consideration. But when asked about his game, Woods said, “I’ve never seen him play.”

He gets that chance on Wednesday, although Woods again is with Steve Stricker, with Jim Furyk rounding out their group.

Fowler took up the game at age 3 and began playing tournaments before he began his schooling. He says he didn’t have any one hero in golf, although Woods winning the 1997 Masters by a record 12 shots was his first memory.

Fowler was only 8 years old at the time.

He has come a long way in such a short time. Fowler only turned pro a year ago, and even when he earned his PGA Tour card last December, his goal for the year was simply to earn his card.

He received an invitation to play the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, and he wound up being drawn with Colin Montgomerie – not knowing that he would be playing against Montgomerie’s team at Celtic Manor.

“Earlier this year, I wasn’t really thinking too much about the Ryder Cup,” Fowler said.

Now he’s being counted on to help the American team win on European soil for the first time since 1993 at The Belfry.