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December 14 2013

9:15 AM

No. 17 player to watch: Rickie Fowler

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With the PGA TOUR set to resume its 2013-14 season the first week of January, PGATOUR.COM is previewing the top 30 players to watch heading into the new year. We'll count down one a day in December until we unveil our No. 1 player to watch on Dec. 30, the Monday of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.

Check out this preview of No. 17 Rickie Fowler and join the discussion below on how you think he'll perform in 2014. Click here for more on the top 30 players to watch in 2014.


NO. 17 PLAYER TO WATCH: RICKIE FOWLER

2014 OUTLOOK: Back issues plagued Rickie Fowler for much of last season and the result was his worst year yet. He finished 40th in the FedExCup standings and failed to top $2 million in earnings for the first time in his young career. He has also seen a slight but steady decline in his driving distance each of the last three years. If Fowler is healthy, he’ll contend and possibly win -- something that for all his prodigious talent he has done just once in his career on the PGA TOUR. One thing holding him back: Final-round scoring. Fowler has ranked outside the top 100 in final-round scoring average each of the last three years. -- Brian Wacker

THUS FAR THIS SEASON: Fowler made two starts -- both in Asia -- with a T19 at the CIMB Classic his best result. He also finished second at the Australian PGA.

EXPERT VIEWS
FANTASY OUTLOOK
As polarizing as Tiger Woods is among casual fans, Fowler is among gamers. They see the flash and the youth and overlook the very real learning curve. Yet, he's already into eight figures in career earnings. Primary hurdle is returning to East Lake where he's qualified only once (2012). -- Rob Bolton
ON THE MARK
Rickie’s game is the perfect match for his flamboyant and confident persona and deportment. He has a swing that is somewhat unorthodox but he releases a lot of energy into the club and as a result he can hit the ball a pretty good way for a slightly built man. He also plays with a fearless approach and is not afraid to attack any hole location. Fowler also hits each putt with zero abandon and this is awesome when he is on but can catch up with him at times. -- Mark Immelman
COURSE PREFERENCE
Rickie is very much a feel player and does not get caught up in technical aspects of his golf swing. Watch Fowler hit wedges. He rarely takes much of a divot and is very good at feeding the ball to the cup using contours of the putting surface. Muirfield Village should fit right into his wheelhouse of playing well on difficult courses. -- Fred Albers
INSIDE THE NUMBERS 
Fowler lost more than 13 yards off the tee in two years, averaging 299.5 yards (T25) in '11 and 286.4 (103rd) in '13. He's also missing more greens of late (134th in 2013) but his short game is saving him. In '11, Fowler was 139th in scrambling and 124th in sand saves, but in '13 was 56th and 16th, respectively. -- Bill Cooney

VIDEO VAULT

Super Slo-Mo Drive: Rickie Fowler

The drive of PGA TOUR Rickie Fowler, captured at The Barclays 2012, is analyzed by four-time PGA TOUR winner and Emmy-winning broadcaster Billy Kratzert.
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