TOP 30 PLAYERS TO WATCH
No. 6: Rickie Fowler
The king of cutting-edge style is getting closer to producing a monster season
December 25, 2017
Rickie Fowler closes the deal for the win at Honda
By Cameron Morfit, PGATOUR.COM
If you think of the stars of the game as actual stars, or planets, the orange-loving Fowler would be the sun -- that universally revered energy source around which everything else revolves.
The Golf Boys video? Yeah, Fowler was in that. The Spring Break trips with Smylie Kaufman, Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas? Yeah, Fowler was part of those, too. When Brooks Koepka came back to South Florida in between early-career adventures in Europe, he sharpened up with matches against Fowler. Ditto for Tiger Woods as he recuperated from back fusion surgery.
Still, the planets have not always been in perfect harmony. Although Fowler, 28, got his fourth career win at The Honda Classic last season, he had nine other top-10s and wondered if he might have won more. He led the U.S. Open at Erin Hills after shooting a 7-under 65 in the first round but faded to a T5 finish. (In 32 major starts, he has seven top-five finishes, no wins.)
Then came the unofficial Hero World Challenge in December, and Fowler’s course-record 61 in the final round. He started with seven straight birdies, shot 28 on the front nine, and won by four over Charley Hoffman. What on earth had gotten into Rickie? There was no telling, at least not until afterward. That’s when he said of pal Woods, “I think he sharpened me up a little bit.”
Uh, yeah. You could say that. It was the type of foot-on-the-gas performance that recalled Fowler’s victory at THE PLAYERS Championship in 2015, and fans were riveted.
So were his fellow players.
“To start out with seven in a row—it’s different if you play a few holes and get loosened up and then start birdieing,” said Fowler’s friend Bubba Watson. “But he came right out of the gate.”
If that version of Fowler comes out of the gate in 2018, then no trophy is safe.
BY THE NUMBERS
How Rickie Fowler ranked in Strokes Gained statistics during his last full season on the PGA TOUR.
Current 2017-18 position: 16th
Playoff appearances: 8
TOUR Championship appearances: 4
Best result: 4th (2015)
INSIGHTS FROM THE INSIDERS
PGATOUR.COM’s Insiders offer their expert views on what to expect from Rickie Fowler in 2018.
TOUR INSIDER by Ben Everill
Time for a bold prediction of sorts. Rickie Fowler is about to bust out of the shadows of his friends and reach the potential he’s always shown. With just four PGA TOUR wins and multiple near-misses, the time has come for Fowler to finally cash in like he did at the Hero World Challenge. His journey reminds me heavily of Jason Day – near-misses in big events have steeled him and when he crosses the threshold, he will be a tornado to be reckoned with.
FANTASY INSIDER by Rob Bolton
The day after the No. 2 in the all-around ranking in 2016-17 (Jon Rahm) is featured, we slide up to the 29-year-old who led the PGA TOUR in the category. When he finally captures his first major title, the rest of the world will see what we've known for years -- that Fowler is simply a beast that his flare and personality accentuates, not distorts in this age of the short attention span. The fact that he has but four wins in eight full seasons on TOUR bumps him to second-round status in the stingiest of draft leagues, but he's not even close to his career peak yet. The only upset is that he didn't crack the top five in our series.
EQUIPMENT INSIDER by Jonathan Wall
Fowler's dramatic come-from-behind win at the Hero World Challenge coincided with a move to Cobra's new King F8+ woods. Cut down his driver shaft to 43.5 inches to gain additional accuracy. King Forged MB irons have tungsten slugs in each head to boost forgiveness and dial-in the center of gravity position. Scotty Cameron Newport 2 GSS putter was originally reserved for Tiger Woods. During a trip to Cameron's studio, Fowler picked up the putter and had it built to his specifications.
STYLE INSIDER by Greg Monteforte
Nobody moves the fashion needle quite like Rickie. He isn’t afraid to shake up the golf apparel world by infusing current streetwear trends into his looks. Besides the new Puma “P” hat he rocked during his win at the Hero World Challenge, expect him to sport electric blues, lemon yellows, and of course, his signature orange in 2018.