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Clutch close at Masters proved Fowler can win majors

By Will GrayJune 13, 2018, 6:14 pm

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – Over the first three days of U.S. Open week, USGA officials escorted 11 different professionals to the media center at Shinnecock Hills for pre-tournament interviews. Ten of them have won majors.

The outlier was Rickie Fowler.

Fowler boasts a decorated resumé, and his fan appeal extends beyond perhaps all of the other 10 players outside of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. But the glaring hole in his credentials lingers, and it’s the reason why he’s still fielding questions that Justin Rose, Jason Day and Dustin Johnson all stopped answering years ago.

So the attention once again focuses on one of the game’s most visible stars with a simple query in play: is this finally the week that Fowler takes center stage after serving a supporting role in so many other recent major celebrations?

Whatever expectations exist for Fowler to earn a breakthrough victory, whatever grip he has on the unenviable title of best player still without a major, were heightened and strengthened by his runner-up performance at the Masters. Not all close calls measure the same, but Fowler’s steely glare coming down the stretch at Augusta National, and his nearly flawless shot-making with the pressure at its peak, were notable even though he came up one shot short of Patrick Reed.

“I left there knowing that I could go win a major championship,” Fowler said. “It was just fun to actually step up and execute. That kind of solidified and validated my actual belief of what I can go do.”

That same belief is quite prevalent among Fowler’s peers, who by and large hold his prospects in high regard. Rory McIlroy was responsible for one of Fowler’s most notable near-misses, edging him out in the gloaming four years ago at Valhalla, and he didn’t hesitate to submit a projection that Fowler will eventually win majors – plural.

“There’s so much more to winning a golf tournament than just playing well. Your timing has to be right. Things have to happen at the right time,” McIlroy said. “The more times Rickie puts himself in position, the better his chances are of winning one. But I think everyone in this room would be really surprised if he wasn’t to go on and win at least more than one major in his career.”

Still months shy of his 30th birthday, Fowler hasn’t lacked for chances. He has already racked up eight top-5 finishes in majors, the fourth-most ever among players without a win and only three behind Lee Westwood on a list that amounts to a backhanded compliment. Seven of those results have come over the last 17 majors, starting with his clean sweep of close calls in 2014 and culminating with his most recent runner-up in Augusta.


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Knowing that the inevitable questions are still heading his way, Fowler fields them with aplomb. He notes that time is on his side, given that Phil Mickelson won all five majors after turning 34, and he cites his 2015 Players Championship victory as an instance where he “basically won a major.”

But the heat of the spotlight is undeniable. Fowler is largely viewed as the best player still in search of a maiden major, and barring a win or a significant run from the likes of Jon Rahm and Hideki Matsuyama, he’ll continue to bear that burden every time he tees it up in the four biggest events.

It likely wasn’t by design, but there’s some symmetry in the joint decision by Fowler and Mickelson to head off-property for their practice Tuesday, eschewing the tournament circus for a round together at Friar’s Head far from any camera lens or microphone.

Mickelson is trying to shake things up to somehow snag the title that has eluded him the most. Fowler is doing so in an effort to snag, well, any of them.

“We all know I’m good enough to win. I know I’m good enough to win,” Fowler said. “Being prepared and making it happen that specific week, there’s been a few guys that have been very good at that – Jack, Tiger. Phil didn’t get his first for a while, so there’s still hope. I’m not too worried about it.”

It’s a similar attitude to the one he offered a year ago at Erin Hills, when he grabbed the early lead with an opening-round 65 and contended deep into the final round. But amid the sprawling Wisconsin landscape, as has been the case so many times before, he couldn’t come up with the necessary shots while another player stepped up at the exact right moment.

He returns to the U.S. Open a year older, perhaps a little wiser and with a newly-minted fiancée by his side. He also has fresh in his mind the memories of the latest instance where major glory extended just beyond his grasp, and he’s keen to ensure that this is the last time he has to answer questions about when it will finally happen.

“We’ll get it done,” he said. “And once we get our first, it’s definitely not going to be the last.”

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'Go in'? Yes, JT wants an ace at the par-4 14th

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 19, 2018, 5:11 am

Justin Thomas didn’t hesitate after hitting his tee shot on the 353-yard, par-4 14th in Round 2 of the CJ Cup.

“Go in,” he immediately said.

“Please go in,” he added.



Thomas’ tee shot was on a great line, but it landed just short of the green. Surprisingly, it took three more shots for his ball to "go in." After birdies on Nos. 12 and 13, Thomas parred the 14th.

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Watch: Dufner makes six (!) fist pumps after birdie

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 19, 2018, 4:53 am

Jason Dufner makes Ben Stein seem like Jonathan Winters. Dufner often looks mighty miserable for someone who plays golf for a living.

But not on Friday at the CJ Cup!

Dufner made a 20-footer for birdie at the 16th hole and “celebrated” with one-two-three-(pause)-four-five-six fist pumps. There could have been more, but the camera cut away.



That was Dufner’s third birdie on the back nine, which offset a triple bogey at the par-3 seventh, en route to an even-par 72. Good times.

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Watch: Paul C-ace-y makes hole-in-one at CJ Cup

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 19, 2018, 2:35 am

Par-par-par-par-par-par. It was a boring second round over the first six holes for Paul Casey at the CJ Cup.

And then he aced the par-3 seventh.



Casey's tee shot from 176 tracked straight towards the hole and rolled in near the final revolution. That got him to 2 under par for the tournament. He was five off the lead, held by Chez Reavie, but bogeyed the ninth and 10th holes to give back those two strokes.

Hey, it's a no-cut event and a guaranteed paycheck. Drinks on Casey!

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Wie has hand surgery, out for rest of 2018

By Randall MellOctober 18, 2018, 9:43 pm

Michelle Wie will miss the rest of this season after undergoing surgery Thursday to fix injuries that have plagued her right hand in the second half of this year.

Wie announced in an Instagram post that three ailments have been causing the pain in her hand: an avulsion fracture, bone spurs and nerve entrapment.

An avulsion fracture is an injury to the bone where it attaches to a ligament or tendon.

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I think John Mayer once said, “Someday, everything will make perfect sense. So for now, laugh at the confusion, smile through the tears, be strong and keep reminding yourself that everything happens for a reason.” A lot of people have been asking me what’s been going on with my hand and I haven’t shared much, because I wasn’t sure what was going on myself. After countless MRI’s, X-rays, CT scans, and doctor consultations, I was diagnosed with having a small Avulsion Fracture, bone spurring, and nerve entrapment in my right hand. After 3 cortisone injections and some rest following the British Open, we were hoping it was going to be enough to grind through the rest of the season, but it just wasn’t enough to get me through. So I made the decision after Hana Bank to withdraw from the rest of the season, come back to the states, and get surgery to fix these issues. It’s been disheartening dealing with pain in my hand all year but hopefully I am finally on the path to being and STAYING pain free! Happy to announce that surgery was a success today and I cannot wait to start my rehab so that I can come back stronger and healthier than ever. Huge thank you to Dr. Weiland’s team at HSS for taking great care of me throughout this process and to all my fans for your unwavering support. It truly means the world to me. I’ll be back soon guys!!!! Promise

A post shared by Michelle Wie (@themichellewie) on

Dr. Andrew Weiland, an attending orthopedic surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, performed the procedure.

“It’s been disheartening dealing with pain in my hand all year, but, hopefully, I am finally on the path to being and staying pain free,” Wie wrote.

Wie withdrew during the first round of the Ricoh Women’s British Open with the hand injury on Aug. 2 and didn’t play again until teeing it up at the UL International Crown two weeks ago and the KEB Hana Bank Championship last week. She played those events with what she hoped was a new “pain-free swing,” one modeled after Steve Stricker, with more passive hands and wrists. She went 1-3 at the UL Crown and tied for 59th in the limited field Hana Bank.

“After 3 cortisone injections and some rest following the British Open, we were hoping it was going to be enough to grind through the rest of the season, but it just wasn’t enough to get me through,” she wrote.


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Wie, who just turned 29 last week, started the year saying her top goal was to try to stay injury free. She won the HSBC Women’s World Championship in March, but her goal seemed doomed with a diagnosis of arthritis in both wrists before the year even started.

Over the last few years, Wie has dealt with neck, back, hip, knee and ankle injuries. Plus, there was an emergency appendectomy that knocked her out of action for more than a month late last season. Her wrists have been an issue going back to early in her career.

“I don’t think there is one joint or bone in her body that hasn’t had some sort of injury or issue,” Wie’s long-time swing coach, David Leadbetter, said earlier this year.