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Once a contender in majors, Rickie Fowler now needs help getting in

There was a time when being side-by-side with Tiger Woods at a main was a good signal. That wasn’t the case for Rickie Fowler, primarily as a result of they had been nowhere close to a golf course.

Woods was watching the Masters from dwelling in Florida whereas recovering from damaged bones in his legs, the worst of greater than a decade of accidents. Fowler was watching with him as a result of for the primary time in a decade he wasn’t eligible to play.

At least he will get a likelihood in the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island, courtesy of a particular invitation that obtained extra consideration than it warranted, primarily due to who he’s.

Still to be decided is whether or not Fowler can be at Torrey Pines subsequent month for the U.S. Open. He hasn’t missed it since his rookie yr when he didn’t make it via qualifying.

“It’s been humbling,” Fowler stated. “For someone who’s been positive, when you go this long through a low point, it tests all facets of life.”

How lengthy?

He has gone 49 tournaments worldwide since he final received, the Phoenix Open, transferring him to No. 8 in the world. He has gone 29 tournaments since he final completed in the highest 10, at The American Express, that one transferring him again into the highest 25.

He now is No. 122, his lowest rating in greater than 11 years. He goes into the PGA Championship having missed his final two cuts. Now it’s a matter of discovering his approach again from what can both be described as a course of, a journey or a grind.

“You can pick them all. It’s been a bit of everything,” Fowler stated. “A big part of it was playing too much golf swing, which needed to be done early on. But I think it went on for too long. Now it’s back to playing golf and hitting shots.”

Fowler looking to worry less, ‘play golf’ more

The invitation to the PGA Championship was not stunning. The PGA of America takes gamers from the final Ryder Cup group in the event that they’re nonetheless among the many prime 100 in the world — Fowler was simply outdoors it on the time — and any participant simply outdoors the highest 100 because it tries to verify nobody cracks the highest 100 on the final minute.

Fowler stands out primarily due to his recognition, which has led to a number of the largest endorsement offers, together with no scarcity of commercials. Fowler makes individuals discover. That’s not at all times a good factor.

Jordan Spieth can relate. He went three full seasons with out successful as he coped with the primary actual battle he’s had in golf. Spieth lastly turned it round early this yr, and he capped it with a victory in the Texas Open.

“For him — and I think for me, too — the most difficult thing about struggling is when you’ve had a lot of success and it’s then almost impossible to struggle in silence, in darkness,” Spieth stated. “There’s just going to be so much noise around and so much emphasis on results versus the true understanding of what your end goal is and how much time that can take in golf.”

The change started towards the tip of 2019 when Fowler determined to vary coaches from Butch Harmon to John Tillery, who additionally works with Kevin Kisner. It didn’t help that golf shut down for 3 months in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. The farther he fell, the higher the battle.

“It’s not like he’s giving me bad information or we’re working on the wrong things,” Fowler stated. “We’re all out here to try to be better. Sometimes it doesn’t work out as quickly as you want. It’s unfortunate that it has taken this long. As the same time, it’s been humbling. You learn a lot when you’re at tough points. These are things that can make or break you. They test you.

“I’m still upright and moving forward.”

Nick Faldo took a jab at Fowler when he didn’t make it to the Masters, suggesting in a tweet that he would have extra time to shoot commercials along with his many sponsors.

Faldo later stated he was making an attempt to encourage him. Fowler didn’t hassle to reply, even when pressed. With 9 worldwide wins, together with The Players Championship and a FedEx Cup playoff occasion, maybe the best trait of the 32-year-old Californian is being unfailingly well mannered.

That stems from rising up in a household that hardly ever spoke unfavorable phrases. His father, Rod, says one of many early influences for his son was seven-time Supercross champion Jeremy McGrath. “Rickie grew up around him. Jeremy was very humble. He let his bike do the talking,” Rod Fowler stated.

PGA Championship: Hole-by-hole look at Kiawah’s Ocean Course

The golf equipment have been silent currently.

Except for a few nagging accidents that slowed Fowler, that is his first actual battle. Fowler stated he’s had shut mates ask him if every thing is OK outdoors the ropes, and that’s as irritating as something. He married Allison Stokke, who rivals him in optimistic pondering, in the autumn of 2019.

“You get people from the outside making comments, ‘It’s because of this, it must be something at home.’ My life is awesome,” Fowler stated with a massive grin. “I’m just not getting the ball in the hole very well right now.”

Fowler’s final prime 10 in a main was at Royal Portrush two years in the past, which assured him a spot in this yr’s British Open at Royal St. George’s. He has been runner-up 3 times in the majors, and had a 50-foot eagle putt on the ultimate gap in the 2014 PGA Championship that may have compelled a playoff with Rory McIlroy. He three-putted and tied for third.

McIlroy stated slumps can finish with out discover, although hardly ever with out placing in the work. Fowler feels he has put in loads of time. He’s nonetheless ready to see it repay.

“Rickie always sees the brighter side of things,” former PGA champion and golf savant Jason Dufner stated. “I know he hasn’t played his best. I know he can turn the corner. I don’t ever think it’s as far away as people think.”

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