Rickie has a chance to join Rory atop golf's landscape

Stan Badz/PGA TOUR
He's been close before, now Rickie Fowler has another chance for that elusive first win.
July 02, 2011
Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM

NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. -- Now it's your turn, Rickie Fowler.


Less than a month removed from Rory McIlroy winning the U.S. Open and the hearts and minds of the golf world right along with it, Fowler has a chance to join him.

Aronimink played on Saturday more like the birdiefest that is TPC River Highlands than the past and possibly future host of a major championship, but a victory on Sunday would go a long way in the court of public opinion -- especially with proven winners like Nick Watney, K.J. Choi and Adam Scott lurking.

Fowler is just 52 starts into his career, but we live in a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately world and his European doppelganger has had this world at his FootJoys since his victory at Congressional.

It was the way McIlroy handled losing the Masters that meant as much if not more than the record-breaking manner in which he won the U.S. Open.

Fowler hasn't endured nearly the same level of heartbreak, but he's come close to victory twice in his professional career -- first at last year's Waste Management Phoenix Open, where he was chided by some for his decision to lay up on the par-5 15th during Sunday's final round, and then a few months later at the Memorial tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance, where he led going into the final round only to lose to Justin Rose.

Still, no one wondered whether Fowler would be scarred by the defeats -- but he also didn't shoot 80 in either of them.

As patient as Fowler has tried to be as he pursues his first win -- he too was in contention at the Masters -- it doesn't mean he hasn't been bothered by a lack of results (read: wins).

"It has been a little frustrating," Fowler said. "I try and stay focused on goals, and one of my main goals is to get my first win on the PGA TOUR and not really focus on my standings or world ranking or anything like that.

"For the most part I just want to play well. I love to play well. I don't really like to play bad."

And Fowler has done that. In a little over a year-and-a-half, the 22-year-old has racked up nine top-10s, including three top-3 finishes.

"I've had some chances to go into the weekend and have good finishes, and unfortunately I've missed out," Fowler said. "So I'm looking forward to starting to change that."

Now Fowler has that opportunity. He can shift the spotlight back to this side of the pond and help create a rivalry with McIlroy for the next 20 years.

Us vs. Them, Rickie vs. Rory.

Even if the two don't dislike each other the way villains are supposed to -- they've often tweeted one another and each voted for the other in the PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year balloting last year (Fowler won) -- they represent a very bright future.

And is there a better place for an American to win on a Fourth of July weekend than Philadelphia?

The home of Ben Franklin, the Liberty Bell and what Fowler hopes will be his first of many victories.