To find more fairways, Fowler shortens driver


PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Rickie Fowler isn’t chasing distance in this power era.

He’s plenty long.

He’s chasing accuracy.

Fowler switched out the 44½-inch shaft in his Cobra King LTD driver this week to a shaft that’s an inch shorter. That switch is working out pretty well, so far.

With a 4-under-par 66 Friday at the Honda Classic, Fowler is in contention to win his fourth PGA Tour title. He left the morning wave one shot behind the leader, Ryan Palmer.

In an era when so many players are out to find a few extra yards in their equipment setup, he’s trying to find a few more fairways.

And Fowler isn’t the first to try something like this. His buddy, Jimmy Walker, shortened the shaft on his Titleist driver from 44 to 42 inches going to the season opener in Hawaii this year.

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“It feels pretty good to step up there with 43½ inches,” Fowler said. “Doesn't start off line very much and doesn't move much from there.

“I may be giving up a little bit of distance, but, still, I was able to get a few out there, getting it plenty far out there. I feel like I have a bit more control.”

Fowler hit 11 of 14 fairways Friday. He hit 10 on Thursday.

“It gives him a tighter ball flight, and he hasn’t lost too much speed,” said Joe Skovron, Fowler’s caddie. “He’s lost a little carry, but he likes the tradeoff.”

Fowler came into this week ranked seventh in driving distance (309.7 yards per drive) but 131st in driving accuracy, hitting just 58 percent of his fairways. When he won three times around the world in 2015, he was 87th in driving accuracy, hitting 62 percent of his fairways.

“The club is out in front of me a lot easier, and with it being a little shorter, it is easier to save when it does get a little out of position,” Fowler said.