Fowler hopes rivalry with McIlroy is just beginning


Rory McIlroy, Bubba Watson and Martin Kaymer all earned major glory in 2014, but they didn’t have the best overall Grand Slam performance.

No, that distinction belonged to Rickie Fowler, whose 32 under total in the majors was the best aggregate score of any player – even better than McIlroy’s 27 under. The next closest player was Jim Furyk, at 21 under. 

Fowler became just the third player in history to record top-fives in all four majors, though Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods each won a Grand Slam event in their years. 

Little wonder expectations have never been higher for the 26-year-old Fowler, as he begins his year alongside McIlroy at this week’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

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“I don’t feel like my game is any weaker than his,” Fowler told reporters Wednesday. “I feel like I putted better than he did through the summer last year. He has strengths that maybe outweigh mine – when he is on top of his driving game he is very tough to beat and he drove it well through the summer. I think it frees up the rest of his game to play some fairly effortless golf.”

Fowler finished in a tie for second, two shots behind McIlroy, at both the Open Championship and PGA. A month later, they were paired during Sunday singles at the Ryder Cup, and the world No. 1 steamrolled Fowler, 5 and 4. 

Fowler is stuck on two pro titles – the 2011 Kolon Korea Open and the 2012 Wells Fargo Championship – but the runner-up in both of those events was McIlroy. 

“It’s not just 2015 to look forward to but the rest of our careers,” Fowler said. “We have a lot of time that we’re going to be able to play against each other and this is really just the start of it. 

“I’m really looking forward to it, and I feel like we’re going to have some fun and heated battles at times.”