Best player without a major? Newly-engaged Rickie Fowler ready to shed that title

Getty Images

Best player without a major? Newly-engaged Rickie Fowler ready to shed that title

PGA Tour

Best player without a major? Newly-engaged Rickie Fowler ready to shed that title

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – There wasn’t any particular reason why Rickie Fowler picked Westhampton Beach on Long Island as the spot for his beach-side proposal to girlfriend Allison Stokke last Sunday night.

“There was nothing planned out,” Fowler said. “I just really didn’t want to carry the ring around any longer.”

As for his title of being the best golfer without a major championship, Fowler is hoping to shed that this week, as well.

Fowler, 29, is one of five players in the 118th U.S. Open field ranked inside the top 12 of the Official World Golf Ranking who have yet to secure a major title. At No. 6 in the world, he joins No. 4 Jon Rahm, No. 10 Hideki Matsuyama, No. 11 Paul Casey and No. 12 Tommy Fleetwood with that distinction.

Yet Fowler easily has the best major record with nine top-10s in majors, including all four in 2014 and a runner-up finish at this year’s Masters.

“I’ve been very close,” Fowler said. “I feel like there’s a few you could look at and say, if it wasn’t for that one guy, we would have won. … There’s some scores that I’ve shot that have been good enough to win majors, but we haven’t been able to get it done that specific week.”

This isn’t the first time that Fowler has fielded questions on the major matter. The former standout on the junior and college levels, Fowler arrived on the PGA Tour with expectations of not just winning one major but multiple. For him to still be searching – some 11 years after he first turned pro out of Oklahoma State – is surprising.

But there’s no doubt among his peers that Fowler has what it takes.

“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,” said Rory McIlroy, who won the British Open and PGA Championship in 2014 while Fowler finished T-2 an T-3, respectively, in those championships.

“… He’s a wonderful player, a lot of imagination, has all the shots, which is something you need around here.”

Said Fowler: “We all know I’m good enough to win. I know I’m good enough to win.”

Fowler left Augusta National this year with more confidence gained than at any previous major – or even his Players Championship victory in 2015 when he shot 6 under in his final six holes to win. He fired a final-round 67 to finish a shot back of green jacket-winner Patrick Reed.

“Prior to that, I knew I could,” Fowler said, “but as far as validating it and really being there. … It was just fun to actually step up and execute.”

Shinnecock Hills offers Fowler perhaps his best chance of grabbing that elusive major trophy. It’s one of his favorite courses and suits his game well, and he’s in a good place mentally, post-proposal. He’s also excited about some of the upcoming venues – Pebble Beach, Winged Foot, Torrey Pines.

While he’s seen some of his peers reach major glory quicker than he ever will – Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Brooks Koepka – he does take comfort in guys such as Phil Mickelson, who didn’t win his first major until age 33.

“I don’t necessarily think there’s any secret to it (winning majors),” Fowler said. “Obviously, you’ve just got to outplay everyone that week.

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

Added McIlroy: “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. You have to get momentum at the right time, a lucky break here and there. The more times Rickie puts himself in a position, the better his chances are of winning one.”

Will Fowler’s time be this week at Shinnecock?

Rickie Fowler, 2018 U.S. Open champion.

It has a ring to it.

Latest

More Golfweek
Home