You can take the boy out of motocross, but you can’t take motocross out of the boy.
That’s pretty much what Oklahoma State coach Mike McGraw told me about Rickie Fowler when we spoke while watching Fowler at the Walker Cup last month. Fowler, an OSU standout, turned pro after the Walker Cup.
“Rickie brought a daredevil approach to golf,” McGraw said.
That’s part of the appeal of Fowler, whose birdie at the final hole Sunday earned him a top-10 finish in his first PGA Tour start as a pro at the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. Fowler had four rounds in the 60s to finish tied for seventh and earn his way into this week’s Frys.com Open. Fowler won’t have to use the sponsor’s exemption that had been awarded him.
McGraw said whatever lured Fowler to motocross has remained part of his DNA as a golfer. Fowler’s father, Rod, won the Baha 1000 on a four-wheeler in 1986 and had Rickie on a dirt bike when he was 3 and racing a few years later. Rod agrees with McGraw, that his son is challenged by the creative shot-making aspects of the game, that Rickie gets a similar thrill trying to pull off tough shots in golf that he got trying stunts on a dirt bike. McGraw said Rickie relished trying to hit escape shots that other players wouldn't risk.
“He almost feeds off trying to hit tough shots,” Rod said.