Rickie Fowler is a vital disappointment

2:10 AM ET

ERIN, Wisc. — As we cruise Rickie Fowler’s U.S. Open opening during Erin Hills, let’s get a few things out of a approach early: If you’re vicious of Fowler since we feel his spin of celebrity outweighs his accomplishments, or since he dates a lot of pleasing women, or since we cruise he appears in too many word commercials and is too in adore with Snapchat, you’re creation a wrong argument.

None of that has any genuine outcome on his golf. There are a lot of bad takes out there when it comes to Fowler, nonetheless a one that suggests he wants to be famous some-more than he wants to be great, is off a mark. If someone wanted to give we a garland of income to wear neon-colored clothes, or if models and Instagram celebrities wanted to date you, you’d roughly positively welcome those opportunities. Fowler isn’t that different, in that respect, from Derek Jeter. Maybe there was a time when his concentration on golf wasn’t utterly what it indispensable to be, nonetheless progressing this year, Butch Harmon, his pitch coach, abashed him only adequate to get him behind on track.

“We had a large review during a finish of final year, and he didn’t like it,” Harmon pronounced this week. “I pronounced ‘You’ve got to decide, are we going to be a Kardashian, or are we going to be a golf pro? You’re a aristocrat of amicable media, and you’re all over these Snapchats and all these things. You need to strech down and squeeze your ears and get your conduct out of your we know what and get behind to work, get your physique in shape.'”

Harmon insists that Fowler took it to heart, worked tough on his physique and his golf pitch and was prepared to start winning majors. Few people in a diversion of golf have some-more credit than Harmon, so I’m no longer meddlesome in a evidence that a office of celebrity is holding Fowler back.

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  • What is fair, however, is a vicious comment of Fowler’s golf game.

    It’s OK to wish to see some-more from Rickie Fowler, to see his opening during Erin Hills — where he tied for fifth after holding a first-round lead — and feel a small disappointed. Finishing top-5 in a vital is great, nonetheless this is a sixth time he has achieved that feat. It’s OK to reason him to a aloft customary than we reason some of a game’s other immature stars.

    Fowler is too gifted to let opportunities like these keep slipping by his fingers. Yes, winning on a PGA Tour is hard, and yes, winning majors is even harder. But as someone who has spent a final several years adhering adult for Fowler and creation excuses on his behalf, I’m prepared to see him indeed make a jump and tighten a understanding in one of these.

    This unequivocally could have been his U.S. Open. I’ll disagree it should have been. It was there for a taking. Everything about Erin Hills played to Fowler’s strengths. He could strike motorist off each tee, he’s a good breeze player, and he could conflict soothing greens with his manacles and afterwards use his higher putting to his advantage. On Thursday, that’s accurately what happened. He done Erin Hills demeanour easy on his approach to sharpened a 65. If he had followed it adult with anything in a 60s, it would have been tough for anyone to locate him.

    Instead, he went behind with a sluggish 73. No large deal, we suspicion during a time. He got his one common turn of a way, and even nonetheless he let everybody else behind in a tournament, he was still a male to beat. None of a players in row during Erin Hills had won a vital either, so clearly this was Fowler’s best possibility yet. This wasn’t 2014, when Folwer contended in all 4 majors nonetheless got beaten by Martin Kaymer in a U.S. Open, and afterwards twice by Rory McIlroy in a Open Championship and PGA Championship. As a many achieved golfer in a hunt during Erin Hills, this was his moment.

    Instead, he radically spent a subsequent 3 days losing ground. He was never unequivocally a cause over a weekend and never injected a contest with any genuine drama. A few years ago, that would have been OK, only another certain step forward. But this one felt different. It felt like regression. He seemed to play it safe, holding prolonged manacles and 3-woods off a tee, maybe anticipating that other players would make mistakes and come behind to him. It was suggestive of his Sunday during a Masters this year, when he started a day in third, sprayed his manacles left and right, done 7 bogeys and faded from third to 11th with a 76.

    Fowler pronounced he wouldn’t cruise anything about this year’s U.S. Open a negative. He didn’t cruise his plan Sunday was any opposite than it was Thursday. He seemed gratified to have snuck into a top-5.

    “I feel like golfwise, I’m personification during a top level,” he said. “If we demeanour during a negatives too much, you’re going to be stranded only doing that a whole time. You have to magnitude success in opposite ways, not only by winning, only since that doesn’t occur a whole lot. we cruise Tiger [Woods] had a best winning commission of all time during 30 percent, and you’re propitious to even spot tighten to 10 [percent]. You kind of have to say, ‘Hey, it’s a major.'”

    It’s astray to review each actor to Woods, even nonetheless we fundamentally do it. Fowler is a one who brought him up, though, so let’s use that as an event to remember something about Woods. Listening to Fowler, it does make we conclude — even some-more so, in review — only what ridiculously high standards Woods had for himself. When he finished in a top-5 during a vital and he wasn’t a factor, he looked like he wanted to hook a crowd into a pretzel. He’d spend a subsequent several months branch his weaknesses into strengths.

    Fowler isn’t ever going to be Tiger. He’ll never even be Rory McIlroy, to be blunt. But right now, his arena looks some-more like Sergio Garcia’s, an unusual round striker who competence have won a handful of majors in his prime, nonetheless who let a ton of chances trip by his fingers in his 20s and 30s. Eventually it became a outrageous weight to bear.

    Garcia eventually grabbed a immature jacket, a attainment that mostly erased his disappointments. His career is zero to be ashamed of. Maybe Fowler will be likewise rewarded one day.

    Still, when we watch him play during a rise of his powers, a approach he played Thursday when he strike laser-like manacles and inebriated in putts, we can’t assistance nonetheless think: Shouldn’t this man win a handful of these?

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