Fowler trending toward golf's elite with win
September 07, 2015
By Helen Ross , PGATOUR.COM
- Rickie Fowler is now third in the FedExCup standings after his win at TPC Boston. (Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
NORTON, Mass. -- In the span of five short months, Rickie Fowler went from being called overrated to being overlooked.
Each time he responded, though, with actions rather than words.
On Monday, Fowler made his point with a win at the Deutsche Bank Championship, where he outdueled Henrik Stenson down the stretch. In the process, he also beat the Nos. 1, 2 and 3 players in the world -- Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Jason Day, a trio of twentysomethings like himself who had commanded all the headlines as the FedExCup Playoffs arrived at TPC Boston last week.
Overlooked? No more.
And back in May, Fowler had shrugged off the sting of a poll of his peers in Sports Illustrated that found him the most overrated player on the PGA TOUR with a playoff win at THE PLAYERS Championship. The 26-year-old played the final four holes at TPC Sawgrass in a phenomenal 5 under, something no one had ever done -- at any venue -- since such records began being kept in 1983.
Overrated? Not hardly.
The enormously popular Fowler, who before this year hadn't won since the 2012 Wells Fargo Championship, says he isn't the type to use newspaper clippings or blog posts or Twitter feeds for motivation. At the same time, though, he's only human and the words had to hurt.
"I definitely want to be the best player that I can be," Fowler said. "I want to be the best player in the world at some point. But, yes, being called overrated, I won three times (worldwide, this year), so thanks for the poll, I guess.
"I've been playing very well the last couple of years, it was just a matter of time before I knocked on the door."
And in case you were wondering, Fowler has no problem with the focus these days on McIlroy, Spieth and Day. He's friends with all three, and he respects their talent.
"I'm trying to be a small fourth thrown in there," Fowler explained.
Rickie Fowler's hard-fought win at the Deutsche Bank Championship
Fowler's caddie, Joe Skovron, says his boss didn't talk much about the poll before the emphatic win at THE PLAYERS. He didn't let on if he was feeling left out this week at TPC Boston, either. That's just not Fowler's nature.
"He doesn't talk alot about that kind of stuff," Skovron said. "But you can tell he's wearing it on his shoulders; you can tell. You can just tell by the look. ...
"He wants to win. He wants to do all these things and I think the expectations were so high so quick because of the popularity, and he's just growing into his game."
Fowler certainly made a statement on Labor Day, playing in the final group with Stenson, who came in at the top of his own game after finishing second a week ago at The Barclays. When the Swede finally blinked, his 7-iron coming up short and tumbling back into the water at the par-3 16th, Fowler was there to take advantage, polishing off a 68 for the one-stroke win.
"I definitely felt very calm out there," Fowler said. "I knew what I was trying to do. Knew what I had to do. And was very much ready to do it."
And when the deed was done, Fowler had moved to No. 3 in the FedExCup, his highest position ever, as well as fifth in the world rankings. He's a lock to remain in the all-important FedExCup top five, the players who will be assured the $10 million bonus at East Lake with a win at the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola.
Fowler's bank account took a small hit on Monday, too. He one-upped himself by sending 10 bottles Tattinger's champagne to the media center after he feted an ace at the Quicken Loans National with 150 cans of beer.
This time, though, Fowler came into the area where all the scribes were huddled over their computers, took the microphone and made a toast before sipping from one of the bottles of bubbly. And he's got another week to celebrate before heading to the BMW Championship in Chicago with his game face on again.
"This is bonus material, here," Fowler said. "We came into the season obviously wanting to play well in the majors and to win a major; wasn't able to do that. But we wanted to win, and win more than once. So we've done that.
"And now it's about getting myself in a great position for Atlanta and to see if we can get some more wins this season. I don't want to stop. I like coming and hanging out here late on the final day. It's good with me."
Rickie Fowler news conference after winning Deutsche Bank