LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England -- Rickie Fowler's welcome-to-the-British-Open moment came early.
Fowler made his debut two years ago at St. Andrews, shooting a 79 in the first round that turned ugly on the back nine with a triple bogey and a double bogey at the 16th and 17th holes. Yet, he rebounded with a 67 to punch his ticket to the weekend and went on to tie for 14th.
"I really didn't play that bad that day," Fowler recalled. "It was a bit windy and it played tough. ... I was only a couple over and then made a couple of numbers coming in and turned a decent round into a 79 pretty quickly. But ever since then I've played very well over here and had to play really well to make the cut there."
Fowler turned in another solid performance last year at Royal St. George's when he shot par or better in the first three rounds, then added a final-round 72 to finish in a tie for fifth. The two British Open performances are his best in 10 major appearances, and he’s hoping the third time is the charm.
"The course is in great shape,” said Fowler, who picked up his first PGA TOUR victory earlier this year at the Wells Fargo Championship. “ It got a little bit of water last night, but so far it's been very tough. It's a tough driving course, very narrow, and there's a lot more rough than I've seen the last couple years at Open Championships, so I'm looking forward to the week."
Fowler, who posted a 3-1 record at Royal County Down, another links course, during the 2007 Walker Cup, likes the challenge and creativity requires by links golf. That said, he knows that the 206 bunkers, deep rough and narrow fairways at Royal Lytham & St. Annes will place a higher premium on ball-striking than usual.
"I have had, I guess, a fair amount of success with links golf
with the little bit of links golf that I have played over the past
few years, mainly starting with Walker Cup where I played well at
County Down," Fowler said. "And I've had a lot of good rounds over
here in The Open Championship.
"Maybe if I didn't turn around from the 79 at St. Andrews, and struggled, it could have been a different story. Since I've turned around from that, it's been a lot of fun playing over here, and I definitely enjoy links golf."