Fowler opens with impressive 66 at U.S. Open
June 13, 2019
By Ben Everill, PGATOUR.COM
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Rickie Fowler takes being called the best player without a major championship as a compliment and would rather be remembered for what he does off the golf course than on it.
But don’t mistake that for a lack of drive to win on the biggest stages.
Fowler opened the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach with an impressive 5-under 66 to tie for second place with Louis Oosthuizen, Aaron Wise and Xander Schauffele on Thursday, putting his resume back in the spotlight.
The uber popular now 30-year-old has five PGA TOUR wins, including the 2015 PLAYERS Championship, but has had to deal with multiple near misses in major championships. This has seen some claim he may have underachieved.
Coming into the 119th U.S. Open Fowler had 10 top-10s in majors to his name without saluting. In 2014 he was inside the top-5 of all four majors. Lately he’s now 20-under in opening rounds at majors since 2017, the best of any player.
But so far no trophies. He claims he’s not worried.
“Obviously there's a lot of great players that haven't won a major. It's not necessarily something I think about or worry about. I know that when the time is right, it's going to happen,” Fowler said entering the week.
“And I've been in the position to have a chance and right there in the mix come Sunday. I don't necessarily put my life on it, looking at what success is. If I don't win a major, that's not going to necessarily define me. Do I want to win a major? Yes. I would love to and then knock off some more after that. But it's not going to define who I am.”
Fowler is acutely aware Phil Mickelson won his first major in his 30s. Jason Day had nine top-10s in majors before his first win. The examples are everywhere of good players taking time.
And the near misses have provided valuable experience as he heads into the next three rounds. He claims he now has a great level of comfort with the nerves. And he’s aware of all the things that can conspire against you. Staying in the moment is important, staying detailed also. If something in the process is off, he will back off and start again.
“That gets more and more important, especially when you get to Saturday, Sunday, and things start to speed up,” he says.
“If you're walking fast it kind of falls into your swing so the more I can stay at the same pace, breathing the same… It's a lot easier said than done.”
Fowler certainly looked calm throughout Thursday’s round hitting 13 of 14 fairways and 15 of 18 greens. He made it look easy at times.
“You don't have to do anything special in majors. It's just being disciplined and executing the shot that's at hand,” Fowler adds.
“It would be nice to see if we can top that, if not just keeping matching it.”