Fowler En Route to be Americas Top Golfer

By John HawkinsFebruary 26, 2011, 3:02 am

Little Rickie Fowler remains golf’s ‘Next Big Thing.’ He's 150 pounds of potential wrapped in the loudest of oranges and brightest of blues.

Unlike a majority of the era’s most heralded young players, Fowler holes putts from all distances. He holes putts that matter, and in doing so, he has carried himself like a guy who plans on holing a whole bunch more.

Sartorially speaking, Fowler bears a striking resemblance to former phenom Sergio Garcia, whose canary outfits and mustard-ketchup combos proved bolder than his pursuit of greatness. A teenage girl might tell you both Sergio and Rickie are Tiger Beat material, but in Garcia’s case, she’d never know how wrong she actually is. In a previous life as El Nino, the dashing Spaniard featured an unorthodox golf swing – a homemade version of Hogan – with a pronounced dropping of the club at the top and enormous lag through the contact zone. 

Rickie Fowler
Rickie Fowler beat Phil Mickelson 6-and-5 in the second round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.

That move, sort of like the old Sergio, no longer exists. Fowler also has a bit of buggywhip action en route to the ball, although no one looks at his swing and talks about him needing to make changes. Garcia’s fall from the game’s top tier, however, had little to do with any mechanical alterations or his play from tee to green. He just stopped making putts, a problem that would have been difficult to envision 10 years ago.

So Fowler and Garcia have a few things in common, at least in terms of how they present themselves to the public. Sooner or later, of course, the difference between style and substance is obvious, and though Fowler has yet to win a PGA Tour event, it is only a matter of time before he becomes one of the world’s most productive players – the multiple major champion so many post-Woods prodigies are unlikely to be.

Charles Howell III lacked the cold-blooded competitive disposition. Aaron Baddeley couldn’t hit it straight. Adam Scott didn’t have the short game. And Garcia, for all his physical gifts, has clearly failed to discover the maturity and mental toughness that would have made him Tiger’s most formidable rival. Plenty of others have come and gone, and if Fowler isn’t the complete package – he ranks a ghastly 184th in driving accuracy this season – he has the right combination of talent and poise requisite to big-time stardom.

Anyone who wears clothing like that suffers from no shortage of nerve.

Never mind Friday’s loss to Matt Kuchar in the third round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. If you’re 22 years old and looking to make strides every week, Fowler accomplished that with his 6-and-5 thrashing of Phil Mickelson the day before. It was a fearless display of precision against one of the best to ever play the game – a situation that would have brought out the worst in a lot of young players.

Fowler isn’t Bubba Watson long, but he ranks in the top 25 percent on the PGA Tour in distance off the tee and finished 22nd in greens in regulation last season. He hasn’t missed a cut since last July, and though his best chances to win as a rookie ended in somewhat disappointing fashion – a strange layup in Phoenix, a water ball at the par-3 12th at the Memorial – it’s worth noting that David Duval piled up 19 top-10 finishes in his first three years before winning three consecutive tournaments at the end of 1997.

This kid may not pull off that stunt, but he’s good, he’s tough, and in five years, we may look at the guy in the fluorescent shirt and refer to him matter of factly as America’s best golfer.

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Rose (64) peaking just ahead of the U.S. Open

By Nick MentaMay 25, 2018, 8:40 pm

A former U.S. Open champion appears to be finding his form just three weeks ahead of the year's second major.

Justin Rose ascended to the top of the leaderboard Friday at the Fort Worth Invitational, with rounds of 66-64 pushing him to 10 under par for the week.

Through 36 at Colonial, Rose has marked 12 birdies against just two bogeys.

"Yeah, I did a lot of good things today," Rose said. "I think, you know, the end of my round got a little scrappy, but until the last three holes it was pretty flawless. I think I hit every fairway pretty much and obviously every green to that point. ...

"Yeah, the way I played through, I guess through my first 15 holes today, was about as good as I've played in a long time."

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Rose won in back-to-back weeks last fall, stunning Dustin Johnson at the WGC-HSBC Championship and riding that victory right into another at the Turkish Airlines Open.

Now the 2013 U.S. Open winner at Merion feels himself once again rounding into form ahead of this year's Open at Shinnecock. A final-round 66 at The Players gave Rose something to focus on in his recent practice sessions with swing coach Sean Foley, as the two work to shore up the timing of Rose's transition into the downswing.

As for his decision to tee it up at Colonial for the first time since 2010, "It was more the run of form really," Rose explained. "I feel like if I didn't play here it was going to be a little spotty going into the U.S. Open. I felt like I wanted to play enough golf where I would have a good read on my game going into Shinnecock.

"So rather than the venue it was more the timing, but it's obviously it's just such a bonus to be on a great layout like this."

For whatever reason, Rose does tend to play his best golf at iconic venues, having won PGA Tour events at Muirfield Village, Aronimink, Cog Hill, Doral, Merion and Congressional.

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Koepka (63): Two wrist dislocations in two months

By Nick MentaMay 25, 2018, 8:19 pm

Brook Koepka's journey back from a wrist injury that kept him out four months hasn't been totally smooth sailing, even if his play has suggested otherwise.

Koepka on Friday fired a 7-under 63 to move up the leaderboard into a tie for third, three shots behind leader Justin Rose through the end of the morning wave at the Fort Worth Invitational.

After a slow start Thursday saw him play his first 13 holes 3 over, Koepka is 10 under with 11 birdies in his last 23 holes at Colonial.

"It doesn't matter to me. I could care less. I'm still going to try as hard as I can," Koepka said. "I don't care how many over or how many under I am. Still going to fight through it."

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Just like he's been fighting his wrist the last two months or so. Koepka reinjured his wrist the Wednesday of The Players when he was practicing on the range and had to halt mid-swing after a golf cart drove in front of him. He nonetheless managed to finish T-11.

And that's not the only issue he's had with that wrist during his return.

"We had a bone pop out of place. I didn't tell anybody, but, yeah, they popped it back in," Koepka admitted Friday. "Luckily enough we kind of popped it back into place right away so it wasn't stiff and I didn't have too, too many problems.

"Yeah. I mean, I've dislocated my wrist twice in the last two months. You know, different spots, but, I mean, it's fun. I'll be all right."

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Twitter spat turns into fundraising opportunity

By Rex HoggardMay 25, 2018, 6:30 pm

Country music star Jake Owen, along with Brandt Snedeker, has turned a spat on Twitter into a fundraising campaign that will support Snedeker’s foundation.

On Thursday, Owen was criticized during the opening round of the Tour’s Nashville Golf Open, which benefits the Snedeker Foundation, for his poor play after opening with an 86.

In response, Snedeker and country singer Chris Young pledged $5,000 for every birdie that Owen makes on Friday in a campaign called NGO Birdies for Kids

Although Owen, who is playing the event on a sponsor exemption, doesn’t tee off for Round 2 in Nashville until 2 p.m. (CT), the campaign has already generated interest, with NBC Sports/Golf Channel analyst Peter Jacobsen along with Tour player Zac Blair both pledging $100 for every birdie Owen makes.

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Noren so impressed by Rory: 'I'm about to quit golf'

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 25, 2018, 5:33 pm

Alex Noren won the BMW PGA Championship last year, one of his nine career European Tour victories.

He opened his title defense at Wentworth Club in 68-69 and is tied for fourth through two rounds. Unfortunately, he's five back of leader Rory McIlroy. And after playing the first two days alongside McIlroy, Noren, currently ranked 19th in the world, doesn't seem to like his chances of back-to-back wins.

McIlroy opened in 67 and then shot a bogey-free 65 in second round, which included pars on the pair of par-5 finishing holes. Noren walked away left in awe.

"That's the best round I've ever seen," Noren said. "I'm about to quit golf, I think."

Check out the full interview below: