After close calls, Duval eyeing Fowler for breakout

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Who’s going to have a breakout year in 2015?

Golf Channel analyst David Duval said in an NBC/Golf Channel media conference call Wednesday that he has his eyes on Rickie Fowler, but it’s notable Fowler isn’t playing in this week’s Hyundai Tournament of Champions. Fowler didn’t win last year, so he didn't qualify for the winners-only event in Hawaii. That’s why Duval wouldn’t call Fowler’s success in 2014 a breakout year.

“My eyes are really on Rickie Fowler,” Duval said when asked for a candidate as this year’s breakout player. “I find it hard to call it a breakthrough year when you don't win a golf tournament, like last year.”

Fowler finished top five in all four majors without winning one.

“It was an amazing year of golf, 12 months of golf, don't get me wrong, but Johnny [Miller] well knows it's about winning,” Duval said. “I don't know if you can say you're breaking through unless you're winning golf tournaments. So that's where my eyes would focus, to see what kind of follow-up Rickie can have to last year's campaign.

"I don't know, for one reason or another, it just intrigues me a lot, because to play as well as he did in the major championships last year, and be so close on those weeks, it takes amazing talent, amazing golf, and you have to be an incredible player. You have to be in control of your emotions, your nerves, because you certainly don't feel the same each day, let alone those different weeks spread out over the months. And to be able to perform so well with the eyes of the golfing world on you is incredible. I'd really like to see him bust through and win the golf tournaments, though, this year.”

Duval said he will be looking at a number of players the same way.

“To see if they can get past just playing well and actually winning golf tournaments, frequently,” he said. “It seems like not too many players anymore have those three-, four-, five-win seasons, and it'll be interesting to see if that can happen moving forward.”