Golf Channel’s Brandel Chamblee marveled over the ball-striking display Rickie Fowler put on Thursday in the first round of the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, but he wondered if Fowler’s flat swing makes it tougher for him to win a major.
Fowler opened with a 5-under-par 66, one shot behind the leader, Justin Rose.
“What he did today, I would dare say, was something we may never see again,” Chamblee said on "Live From the U.S. Open". “I don’t know that I have ever seen it. He led the field in driving accuracy, and he was second in driving distance. He led the field in greens in regulation.
“It was brilliant. He averaged 321 yards off the tee missing just one fairway.”
Chamblee, however, said he believes Fowler’s flat swing may be the reason he has struggled to break through and win his first major. Fowler, 30, is making his 39th start in a major. He has eight finishes of T-5 or better in majors with three of those second-place finishes.
“Why his path to a major championship victory has to come from the fairway is because, unlike some of the players we have talked about, Brooks Koepka, Justin Rose or Tiger Woods, who have been good out of the rough on the way to winning major championships, this is where Rickie Fowler struggles,” Chamblee said. “He has a very flat golf swing. As a matter of fact, maybe the flattest golf swing I have ever seen. Certainly, the flattest on the PGA Tour. Subsequently, a very shallow angle of attack with a little flip.”
Fowler ranked 168th on the PGA Tour in proximity to the hole from the rough two seasons ago, 151st last season, and he is 132nd so far this season.
“You need to be able to dig it out of the rough at major championships, where it’s a little thicker than in regular tour events,” Chamblee said. “He typically hasn’t been very good out of the rough.”