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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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Furyk: Not a 'good idea' to team Tiger, Phil at Ryder Cup

By Ryan LavnerJune 25, 2018, 1:12 pm

Those hoping for another Tiger Woods-Phil Mickelson partnership at the Ryder Cup might be sorely disappointed.

U.S. captain Jim Furyk all but slammed the door on the reboot Monday on Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive.” Speaking at the CVS Health Charity Classic, Furyk laughed off the idea and said that it wouldn’t be a “good idea” for him to team them again.

“It worked out so well the first time,” he said, chuckling, referring to the 2004 matches, where captain Hal Sutton paired the sport’s two biggest stars and watched them go 0-2 en route to a lopsided team defeat at home.

Colin Montgomerie, who was also on the set and a member of that ’04 European squad, chimed in: “It was a great decision for Europe!”

Woods and Mickelson’s relationship has improved in recent years, since they were part of the task force that morphed into the Ryder Cup committee. They even played a practice round together this year at the Masters. But Furyk seemed to suggest even that wouldn’t be enough to put them together again in Paris.

“I hope they’re both watching, because they just fell off the couch laughing,” Furyk said. “I wouldn’t guess that would be a good idea as a captain, I’m just saying.”

Both Mickelson and Woods are outside the top 8 automatic qualifiers. Mickelson is currently ranked 10th, while Woods is now 39th.

Woods has already been named a vice captain for this year’s matches, though Furyk said that Woods had broached the topic of being a playing vice captain as early as January. Furyk added that he hasn’t discussed what Woods would need to show him over the course of the year to be considered for a captain’s pick.

“He hasn’t played as big of a schedule as everybody else,” Furyk said, “but when he has played, he’s played pretty well. Definitely an eye-opener for everyone.”

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Grandma hopes sick JT has some 's***-kicking antibiotics'

By Grill Room TeamJune 25, 2018, 1:08 pm

Justin Thomas tied for 56th at the Travelers Championship, still recovering from a brutal test at the U.S. Open and, apparently, battling an illness.

Thomas is next competing at this week's French Open, along with the likes of Jon Rahm, Tommy Fleetwood, Sergio Garcia and a host of potential Ryder Cup foes.

Count his grandmother as one who is pulling – really, really pulling – for his physical recovery.



Grandmothers are the best. And as you can make out from the top of the text exchange, she finally figured out what was on JT’s pants in Round 1 at Shinnecock Hills.

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What's in the bag: Travelers champion Watson

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 25, 2018, 12:22 pm

Bubba Watson won the Travelers Championship for a third time in his career. Here's a look inside his bag:

Driver: Ping G400 LST (7.6 degrees), with Grafalloy Bi-Matrix Prototype X shaft

Fairway wood:  Ping G (13.2 degrees), with Fujikura Tour Spec 8.2 X shaft

Irons: Ping iBlade (2), Ping S55 (4-PW), with True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100 shafts

Wedges: Ping Glide 2.0 (52 degrees, 55 degrees, 63 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100 shafts

Putter: Ping PLD Anser

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x

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Travelers purse payout: Bubba, Cink close low, earn big

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 25, 2018, 12:06 pm

Bubba Watson shot 63 on Sunday to win the Travelers Championship. He took home the trophy, but he wasn't the only player to earn a big payday. Here's how the purse was paid out at TPC River Highlands:

1 Bubba Watson -17 $1,260,000
T2 Stewart Cink -14 $462,000
T2 Beau Hossler -14 $462,000
T2 J.B. Holmes -14 $462,000
T2 Paul Casey -14 $462,000
T6 Kevin Tway -13 $234,500
T6 Brian Harman -13 $234,500
T6 Russell Henley -13 $234,500
T9 Chase Seiffert -12 $189,000
T9 Bryson DeChambeau -12 $189,000
T9 Anirban Lahiri -12 $189,000
T12 Rory McIlroy -11 $147,000
T12 Ryan Blaum -11 $147,000
T12 Jason Day -11 $147,000
T15 Charley Hoffman -10 $115,500
T15 Patrick Cantlay -10 $115,500
T15 Danny Lee -10 $115,500
T15 Kyle Stanley -10 $115,500
T19 Brooks Koepka -9 $79,000
T19 Fabian Gomez -9 $79,000
T19 David Lingmerth -9 $79,000
T19 Zach Johnson -9 $79,000
T19 Emiliano Grillo -9 $79,000
T19 Matt Jones -9 $79,000
T19 Jamie Lovemark -9 $79,000
T26 Sam Ryder -8 $49,700
T26 Si Woo Kim -8 $49,700
T26 Richy Werenski -8 $49,700
T26 Blayne Barber -8 $49,700
T26 Steve Marino -8 $49,700
T26 Peter Malnati -8 $49,700
T26 Patrick Rodgers -8 $49,700
T33 Alex Cejka -7 $39,550
T33 Tyler Duncan -7 $39,550
T33 Kevin Streelman -7 $39,550
T36 Seamus Power -6 $35,175
T36 James Hahn -6 $35,175
T38 Scott Stallings -5 $30,800
T38 Russell Knox -5 $30,800
T38 Brandon Harkins -5 $30,800
T38 Lanto Griffin -5 $30,800
T42 Adam Hadwin -4 $24,500
T42 J.J. Henry -4 $24,500
T42 Jordan Spieth -4 $24,500
T42 Mackenzie Hughes -4 $24,500
T42 Brett Stegmaier -4 $24,500
T47 Billy Hurley III -3 $17,578
T47 Vaughn Taylor -3 $17,578
T47 Sam Saunders -3 $17,578
T47 Kelly Kraft -3 $17,578
T47 Keegan Bradley -3 $17,578
T47 J.J. Spaun -3 $17,578
T47 Wesley Bryan -3 $17,578
T47 Denny McCarthy -3 $17,578
T47 Scott Brown -3 $17,578
T56 Ryan Armour -2 $15,680
T56 Keith Mitchell -2 $15,680
T56 Ken Duke -2 $15,680
T56 Justin Thomas -2 $15,680
T56 Hunter Mahan -2 $15,680
T61 John Huh -1 $14,910
T61 Martin Laird -1 $14,910
T61 Steve Wheatcroft -1 $14,910
T61 James Driscoll -1 $14,910
T61 Tom Lovelady -1 $14,910
T61 Nick Hardy -1 $14,910
T67 Daniel Berger E $14,350
T67 Trey Mullinax E $14,350
T69 Cameron Tringale 1 $14,000
T69 Kyle Thompson 1 $14,000
T69 Ethan Tracy 1 $14,000
T72 Dominic Bozzelli 2 $13,650
T72 Martin Flores 2 $13,650
74 Padraig Harrington 4 $13,440