The hype is building for the best golfer not to win a major
It’s going to happen.
Rickie Fowler is sure of it. So, too, are his fellow players.
Repeat after Rickie, Rory, Rosey and others: “Rickie Fowler is going to win a major championship.”
Maybe even this week at the US Open at Shinnecock Hills, which he calls one of his favorite golf courses in the world.
“We’ll get it done,” Fowler said Wednesday. “And once we get our first, it’s definitely not going to be the last.”
Fowler, who’s only 29 years old, already has eight top-5 finishes in the majors, including three runner-up finishes, the last of which was at the Masters in April.
“I’ve been very close,” Fowler said. “I feel like there’s a few you could look at and say, ‘If it wasn’t for that one guy, we would have won.’ There’s some scores that I’ve shot that have been good enough to win majors, but we haven’t been able to get it done that specific week.”
Fowler has gone 33 majors without a win, and this is now becoming a thing — an annoying asterisk to an otherwise terrific career that’s still very much in progress. He has four career wins, and all those close calls in major championships — finishing in the top 5 in all four majors in 2014 — without the line. It’s time to cross the finish line first.
“We all know I’m good enough to win,’’ Fowler said. “I know I’m good enough to win.
“Phil [Mickelson] didn’t get his first for a while, so there’s still hope. I’m not too worried about it. I’m excited about some of these courses that we have coming up, especially this week. But in the coming years, we have some great major venues.“Obviously, Augusta is one of my favorites, and I have had success there. It would be nice to throw on a [green] jacket at some point, but we’ll keep doing what we’re doing. I’m definitely not trying to put any extra pressure on [myself]. These are special weeks, so we’re making sure that we’re getting ready for those four.”
Until he finally won for the first time, at the 2012 Wells Fargo, Fowler was criticized for being more style than substance — with his litany of commercial endorsements and cult following wearing the same bright-colored outfits he does.
That wasn’t — and still isn’t — necessarily fair. Fowler is simply at the forefront of the new breed of multi-tasking, social-media-loving new players. Don’t hate him for that. He works hard, prepares and has put himself in position to succeed.
“I’d be very surprised if Rickie didn’t have multiple majors by the end of his career,’’ Rory McIlroy said Wednesday. “He’s a great player. He’s played great in majors. He could have won a couple in ’14, and I was the one that got the better of him there [winning the PGA].
“But he’s put himself in positions. He made a great run at Augusta earlier this year. There’s so much more to winning a golf tournament than just playing well. Your timing has to be right. Things have to happen at the right time. You have to get momentum at the right time, a lucky break here and there. The more times Rickie puts himself in a position, the better his chances are of winning one.“I think everyone in this room would be really surprised if he wasn’t to go on and win at least more than one major in his career.”
Justin Rose, who waited until he was 33 before breaking through to win his first major, in the 2013 US Open at Merion, understands what Fowler is going through right now.
“He’s creating those opportunities,” Rose said. “He played plenty well enough at the Masters that it could have been his year. He will let one or two go in the future. He’s going to be on the leaderboard for a long, long time, and I’m sure things are going to line up for him more than once.”
Fowler has drawn inspiration from support and advice he’s gotten from fellow players who are major champions — including 18-time major winner Jack Nicklaus, who’s taken him under his wing down in Florida.
He, too, said he’s gotten encouragement from Tiger Woods and Freddie Couples, one of his idols as a kid, as well as from his contemporaries who’ve already joined the elite major-winner club — McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas, who won the PGA last August.
“Sometimes I give Justin a hard time,” Fowler said. “It came a little quicker for him. I’ve had to wait a bit.”
Hopefully, Fowler won’t have to wait much longer.