Fowler sees consistency as key to elite status

By Will GrayOctober 21, 2015, 9:48 pm

Rickie Fowler has learned how to contend. Coming off a breakthrough summer, he also knows how to win. Now comes the hard part - carving out a consistent spot among the game's elite.

Fowler is headlining the field this week at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, his first appearance at the Tour's annual stop in Las Vegas since 2010. At No. 5 in the Official World Golf Ranking, he is the highest-ranked player at TPC Summerlin. 

After going nearly three years without a win, Fowler broke through for a playoff victory at the Players Championship in May and followed that with two more worldwide wins. Heading into his first start of the new season, he hopes to increase the frequency of his leaderboard appearances.

"I think the main goal is to win a major, and to continue winning. It would be nice to be a little more consistent," he said Wednesday. "I didn't get off to the greatest of starts last year, but I definitely capitalized when I put myself in position to win. So a lot of positives, but I still want to continue to get better and like I said, consistency is the big key."

Fowler had long been viewed as a can't-miss prospect, but he took giant strides in 2014 with top-five finishes in all four majors. That progress led to a three-win season this year. 

But amid the high finishes, there were also some surprising off weeks. Still working through a swing change with instructor Butch Harmon, Fowler missed seven cuts in a 14-start stretch during the spring of 2014. Even this past year, he followed his win at TPC Sawgrass with a pair of missed cuts, including a disastrous opening-round 81 at the U.S. Open. 

In both instances, though, the 26-year-old closed the season with ample momentum, and he hopes to avoid a slow start out of the gates this time around. According to Fowler, progress has been made both with his mechanics and with his mentality.

"I feel like with the golf swing, I know what I'm bringing to the course. Things are a lot more efficient, a lot less feel-oriented," he said. "If I'm not hitting it the way I want to, things are easier to fix. It's minor changes. 

"With playing well last year, building a lot of confidence with the wins, that has built even more confidence in how I feel coming down the stretch."

Fowler is just two weeks removed from a middling performance at the Presidents Cup, and he admitted that his game remains rusty:  "I don't have my best right now," he said. But Fowler has played well at TPC Summerlin before, including a T-7 finish in 2009, and he is using this week as a chance to meet with Harmon and make sure that he will hit the ground running when the season begins in earnest in January.

He'll play this week and again next month in China before a prolonged break, but he joked Wednesday that there truly is no offseason in golf.

Instead, it's one extended attempt to build upon momentum while chasing ever-loftier goals. Fowler's happen to be a little more within reach thanks to the progress he has already made.

"My goals have always been to win, to be in contention, to win majors, to ultimately be the best player in the world," he said. "But over the last two years, I've just built more belief and more confidence in accomplishing those."

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McIlroy 'committed to everything ... ran out of holes'

By Jay CoffinJuly 22, 2018, 7:08 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy summed it up: “I don’t really feel like it’s a defeat. I feel like it’s a good week.”

McIlroy, in search of his fifth major, tied for the lead at The Open late on Sunday at Carnoustie when he made eagle on the par-5 14th hole. An hour later, he had made five consecutive pars to close out a 1-under 70 and tie for second place with Justin Rose, Kevin Kisner and Xander Schauffele.

That group ended two shots behind winner Francesco Molinari. McIlroy thought it was realistic to squeeze one more shot out of his round, but he never though it was possible to squeeze out two.

“I committed to everything,” he said. “I hit the shots when I needed to. I made good swings on 17 and on 18. I just ran out of holes.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

McIlroy hasn’t played poorly this year, but this hasn't been a year that would rank as a total success. He took the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March and collected a second-place finish at the BMW PGA Championship. He had a legitimate chance to win the Masters before a terrible Sunday round, and then missed the cut at the U.S. Open last month at Shinnecock Hills.

Sunday at Carnoustie, McIlroy bogeyed two of his first five holes and quickly became an afterthought. When others faltered, McIlroy birdies Nos. 9 and 11, then eagled 14 to vault back into the picture.

“I’m happy with how I played,” he said. “I didn’t get off to a great start, but I hung in there, and I battled back.

“So I’ll look back at this week and be very encouraged about what I’ve done and the golf that I played. I feel like that will stand me in good stead for what’s coming up.”

McIlroy is scheduled to play the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in two weeks, followed by the PGA Championship and the FedExCup Playoffs.

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Edoardo, other pros congratulate Francesco on Twitter

By Grill Room TeamJuly 22, 2018, 6:54 pm

Francesco Molinari played a bogey-free weekend at Carnoustie to claim Italy's first claret jug.

His rock-solid performance in the final round earned him his share of social media plaudits.

Here's a collection of Twitter hat-tips, and we start off with Frankie's brother, Dodo.

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Woods: Fan who yelled had 'tipped back a few'

By Jay CoffinJuly 22, 2018, 6:37 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tiger Woods stood on the 18th tee and thought he needed birdie to have a chance to win The Open. He pulled driver out of his bag, a sign he wanted to boot the ball as far down the fairway as possible.

Woods took a mighty swat and - right in the middle of his downswing - someone yelled. Woods flinched.

Luckily his ball still found a decent spot just off the right of the fairway.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“I’ve had things like that happen a lot in my career with people who just tried to time it,” Woods said Sunday at Carnoustie after shooting 71 to tie for sixth place. “They tipped back a few, and it’s late in the day.

“Unfortunately, that’s part of what we have to deal with in today’s game. People are trying to yell out things to try to be on TV or be in social media or whatever it may be. That was too close to the game of play.”

Woods hit his approach to 6 feet and missed the birdie putt. He tapped in for par to shoot even par and finish 5 under for the week, in a tie for sixth.

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Pros melt down on Twitter as they watch Tiger

By Grill Room TeamJuly 22, 2018, 6:30 pm

Tiger Woods mounted a final-round charge and, for a little while, took the outright lead at Carnoustie on Sunday.

His fellow pros were watching and tweeting like your average fans.

We compiled some of their missives below:

Woods would go on to finish in a tie for sixth at 5 under par for the week.