Following his opening-round 66, Rickie Fowler talks with Bill Rosinski from SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Rickie Fowler was waiting beside the 10th green at Augusta National as his good friend Bubba Watson surveyed that shot across the fairway from deep in the trees.
Fowler saw the ball emerge and take that a 40-yard right turn before landing safely on the putting surface. He waited anxiously as Watson two-putted for the playoff victory over Louis Oosthuizen, then joined him on the green for a tearful hug of celebration -- after Watson's mother, Molly, of course.
"I might have been more nervous than he was there," Fowler remembered. "It was a lot of fun to be there. Obviously being one of my best buddies, probably my best friend out here and having Ben (Crane) and Badds (Aaron Baddeley) there, as well, just kind of getting to see kind of the moments from outside the ropes and see what was going on coming down the stretch, I definitely took a lot away from it, kind of more the feeling that I want to be in that position.
"Instead of Bubba winning I want to win. Maybe he'll let me win one soon."
The way Fowler played in the first round of the Wells Fargo Championship, you have to wonder if soon could turn into now. The colorful 23-year-old is two strokes off the lead after shooting a bogey-free 66 that included four birdies and an eagle at the seventh hole where he hit a 6-iron to 10 feet.
"I actually played pretty solid the first six holes, just couldn't get a putt to go in," Fowler said. "Every putt I had that was uphill I left it short, and I had two kind of quick downhill putts that just one broke off, one stayed just outside. Just finally got a putt to go in and kind of went on from there."
Fowler came to Charlotte on the heels of a tie for 10th at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, his second top -10 of the year, both of which have come in his last six starts. The season, he says, has been "slow" but he's pleased to be putting the ball in the fairway and giving himself some opportunities.
"I've felt like I've made some really good swings the past few weeks, so hopefully I'm turning a corner, can get into contention and start having some fun and start focusing on that first win," Fowler said. "I really had three main goals coming into this year: First win, making it to the TOUR Championship and making the Ryder Cup. Still focusing on those and have some fun."
Fowler said he knows people are wondering when he will finally break through. Shoot, the expectations have followed him ever since he turned pro in the fall of 2009 and lost a playoff at the Frys.com Open the second time he played for money.
Instead of being burdened, though, he appreciates the faith people have in him.
"I feel that I'm good enough to win," Fowler said. "I definitely feel like with the amount of people expecting or thinking that I can win is a compliment."
The win in Korea was just another stepping stone. Fowler, who
feels that first win will solidify his position as a player on
TOUR, has already finished second four times on the PGA TOUR, and
he knows how tough the competition is.
"I mean, you look at (Jason) Dufner (winning in his 164th start) last week, and obviously he's been very close a number of times," Fowler said. "Everything kind of has to fall into place. I feel like unless you go out and have four great rounds and kind of win by more than three or four shots like I did in Korea, you're going to have to get some good bounces or in a way get lucky at some point to get the first win or multiple wins.
"It's tough to put 72 holes of great golf together. Just waiting for that time to come, keep playing well, and right now the last couple weeks I've been hitting the ball well and putting myself in position. I wouldn't be surprised if a win is just around the corner, and once it does, hopefully the doors open and we'll go from there."