Rickie Fowler: Tiger Woods still deserves the extra attention

Rickie Fowler: Tiger Woods still deserves the extra attention

PGA Tour

Rickie Fowler: Tiger Woods still deserves the extra attention

ORLANDO – Five years ago Rickie Fowler found himself on the losing end of Tiger Woods’ eighth Arnold Palmer Invitational victory. After that Monday finish, Fowler, who finished T-3, remembers sitting in the locker room with Woods, Arnold Palmer, Palmer’s longtime press secretary Doc Giffin and a few others.

“We just kind of hung out, had a couple drinks, shared stories, and those are kind of priceless moments,” Fowler said. “Being around Tiger and Arnie, two of the greatest guys to ever play the game, kind of a special hour or so that we all got to hang out and spend together.”

Woods hasn’t won at Bay Hill since, but enters this week as one of the favorites after a T-2 showing at the Valspar Championship last week. Fowler is among those who are glad to see Woods back, even if it means fewer eyeballs on him and his other Tour peers.

Tigermania is back, and Fowler has no complaints. Woods has earned it, Fowler says.

“I mean guys like Arnold, Jack (Nicklaus), Gary (Player), they kind of set the stage. Then we had kind of the (Greg) Norman, (Nick) Faldo, and then Tiger came around and took the game to a whole new level,” Fowler said. “If you look at the media side of it to the TV contracts, the sponsors, how many fans and growing the game of golf, he’s been the biggest needle mover in the game; I don’t think anyone’s really going to come close to what he’s been able to do as far as current time, so it’s attention that he’s acquired and deserves.

“I’m not sure that he always wants the attention as far as the amount of people that do follow and basically pick up his every move on the golf course, but he’s had a decent career, so I think people want to know what he’s doing.”

Should Fowler be grouped with Woods during the weekend at Bay Hill, Fowler can expect a raucous atmosphere. And if the two are in contention together coming down the stretch, chances are the crowd that he saw in 2013 will be magnified.

Fowler would welcome a back-nine battle against the 14-time major winner with a title on the line come Sunday.

“You look forward to playing the best in the world and going up against guys head-to-head,” Fowler said. “Obviously he’s back to playing well and the last few weeks having good finishes. I think he’s excited to be back feeling the juices of being in contention and feeling healthy and it’s been fun to see him, like I said, kind of following him at home where he was having fun playing golf instead of worrying about how the body was doing or what he had, he was just out there enjoying being back on the golf course.”


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