PORTRUSH, Northern Ireland – Rickie Fowler’s knocking on the door again.
But it’s not just any door, either. No, the barrier Fowler’s been trying to get by allows entrance into golf’s most treasured chamber. He’s knocked on it before, many times, only to be denied passage.
But Fowler keeps heading toward this major entryway. His latest movement came Saturday in the third round of the 148th British Open, where a splendid 5-under-par 66 on the Dunluce links at Royal Portrush put him in position to walk through to his first victory in a major.
“We went the right direction today, that’s for sure,” Fowler said after he climbed the giant yellow scoreboards into contention in the oldest major championship. “We just gave ourselves a chance.”
He’s had plenty of chances to shed the label of being one of the best players never to have won a major, a double-edged tag that has been attached to his logoed wardrobe for five years. The winner of five PGA Tour titles and two more on the European Tour, has 10 top-10s in 37 majors he’s played as a pro.
Four of those came in 2014, including the PGA Championship where he led by one with six to play before tying for third. His most recent close call came in the 2018 Masters when he made a back-nine rush but fell one short of Patrick Reed.
While the aforementioned double-edged tag has bothered more than a few players, Fowler embraces it. For one, his good deeds and good nature define him, not his good golf. For another, he looks at the label as a positive, for it announces him as being the best among those who haven’t won a major.
And as he’s said many times, all he can do is put himself in position. His current location looks on paper to be too much of a deficit to conquer, what with Shane Lowry owning a four-shot lead over Tommy Fleetwood and being eight clear of Fowler.
But Mother Nature is about to unload. Sunday’s final-round tee times were moved up because heavy rains and strong winds are in the forecast a day after there was nae rain, nae wind but plenty of balmy conditions for these parts.
“You’ve just got to take what you get. That’s links golf. That’s the Open. There’s nothing you can do about it. And go throw the waterproofs on and have fun,” said Fowler, who won the Waste Management Phoenix Open earlier this year when the weather turned nasty in the final round. “Regardless of how far back we are, we’re going to go out there tomorrow and give it a run and leave it all out there. You never know what can happen.
“All I can do is go out there tomorrow and just play a damn good round of golf and see what happens.”