Fowler strives to stand out for game, not just attire

Rickie Fowler during the first round of the Australian PGA Championship.

Rickie Fowler during the first round of the Australian PGA Championship.

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9:20:02 AM ET. 04/17/2014




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You know his clothes and caps, those loud pieces with bright orange, lime and turquoise colors you might scoop into a cup at a sherbet shop, colors that allow you to sneak up on exactly no one. Little wonder then that TV funnyman Gary McCord last year referred to the affable teen idol as the “man who was breast-fed by a rainbow.”

Kids want to be Rickie Fowler or be around him. Fowler, meanwhile, wants to be recognized for more than his threads.

“I know I’m known for what I wear on the golf course,” Fowler said Tuesday during a news conference promoting next week’s Humana Challenge, where he will make his first PGA Tour start in 2014. “But I want to be known as a great player.”

With that goal in mind, the 25-year-old has hooked up with renowned instructor Butch Harmon. The two have been around each other on Tour since Fowler’s 2010 rookie season, getting acquainted during practice rounds.

They first worked together on the range at Muirfield last July after Fowler missed the cut at the Open Championship. They have had two sessions on Harmon’s range in Las Vegas since early November, including Tuesday, and have exchanged swing video via email.

“I feel that with the experience he has as a teacher, he could help me reach my goals,” Fowler, 25, said of the 70-year-old Harmon, whose many students over the years have included Greg Norman and Tiger Woods, as well as current pupil Phil Mickelson. “I’m excited to be doing it.”

Like Mickelson, Fowler is a feel player rather than a mechanical one. As such, he has gone without a full-time instructor since his coach, Barry McDonnell, died in May 2011.

So far, Fowler and Harmon have made minor changes rather than major ones. They have worked to improve his takeaway and shorten his backswing.

“It’s just basically taking what I have and cleaning it up and making it the best we can . . . making it more consistent and repeatable,” Fowler said.

So far, so good, he figures. He finished second in the Australian PGA and tied for eighth at the Thailand Golf Championship in his last two starts.

Entering his fifth full season on Tour, Fowler has one victory (2012 Wells Fargo), five seconds, two thirds and 15 other top-10 finishes in 107 starts. His best finish in a major is a T-5 showing at the 2011 Open Championship at Royal St. George’s – no surprise, given links golf is his favorite style.

Understandably, his goal is to win more often, though he hardly sounded frustrated with one victory so far.

“I always knew it would be tough to win on Tour,” Fowler said. “(Having) guys like Tiger and Phil doesn’t help the average Tour player’s cause (with regard to winning).”

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