Sport

Rickie Fowler is still easy to find while falling from above

TULSA, Oklahoma — Everyone in golf knows Rickie Fowler is struggling.

On Monday, ahead of this week’s PGA Championship in Southern Hills, Fowler was asked with reporters if he had enlisted the help of a sports psychologist to help improve his mental game.

“I don’t know whether to throw names out or not,” Fowler said after a pause.

The reporter then asked, “Is there more than one?”

“No,” Fowler said with a smile. “I mean, I’m not that confused.”

That’s why you cheer for Rickie Fowler. He is responsible. He does not run away and does not hide from the difficult questions, even knowing that their topic will be uncomfortable.

Fowler has been lost in the woods for about two years. Not literally in the woods. Figuratively.

When you looked at the Masters field last month and didn’t see Fowler’s name on the list as well as the Players Championship the month before, it felt chilling if you’re a Fowler fan.

Fowler is only 33 years old and has been a fixture in the major championship fields. He came so close to winning more than one that he became the poster boy as the “best player to ever win a major title.”

Remember when he finished in the top 5 of all four majors in 2014? It was only a matter of time before he stormed through that door. Felt almost inevitable.

That seems like a few lifetimes ago. Fowler, whose world rankings have plummeted to No. 146, would love to still be seen as the face of that title because at least it would mean he was fighting.

Fowler is in the PGA Championship field this week due to his tie for eighth place at last year’s PGA on Kiawah Island. Without that finish he wouldn’t be in the field this week.

Ricky Fowler
Ricky Fowler
AP

And without a win at Southern Hills this week, Fowler will have to go through a grueling section qualification to compete in the US Open and British Open.

“Fuck it, it’s never fun,” Fowler said. “I actually enjoyed it as much as it sucked. Not that I’ve ever fallen in love with the game or anything like that, but I’ve embraced the grind… even though we were going through tough times.

“Right now it’s more about building trust. I feel like it’s been really difficult to build momentum over the last few years, and momentum is really what builds confidence and you can kind of start riding that wave. There was no swell. I couldn’t ride anything.”

Fowler had a small spike in results last year, tying for eighth place at the PGA and then tying for third place at the CJ Cup, but never rode the wave further. His last result was a tie for 21st place at Wells Fargo a few weeks ago.

“The finish I had at Wells Fargo a couple of weeks ago wasn’t great, but I was finally starting to see a few things going in the right direction where I’d dug deeper holes in the past [which] There’s nothing you can do out here,” he said. “You can’t go backwards.”

Fowler came out on fire from his two years playing at Oklahoma State. He was a success on the golf course, an integral part of the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup teams, a member of the PGA Tour’s cool crowd, and he too became a marketing icon.

“I think culturally it was a game changer for golf,” Oklahoma State graduate Talor Gooch told The Post on Monday. “I think he’s had as much impact on the game as anyone over the last 20 years. As a tiger [Woods] came out with how many children did you see [Nike] swooshes on their hats and red shirts? One can argue that when Rickie came out, just as many kids were wearing orange shirts and flat caps.”

Ricky Fowler
Ricky Fowler
Getty Images

Fowler was an example for Gooch to follow, except that Gooch didn’t have the early success out of college that Fowler had as he struggled on the smaller circuits like the MacKenzie Tour in Canada before finally tackling his first Victory last year interspersed RSM classics.

“You can’t see what he’s done and you can’t think, ‘This is what I want to do,'” Gooch said.

Gooch said he hasn’t spoken to Fowler about his struggles, saying, “Like any other sport, you don’t want to talk to a guy when he’s having problems like, ‘Why are you playing badly?’

“We all know that golf reaches everyone at some point. It’s only a matter of time before he plays well and becomes one of the best players in the world again. I have no doubt about that.”

Neither does Fowler.

“I know it’s there,” Fowler said.

When will he find it again?

“It’s going to make his story that much better in the end,” Gooch said.

https://nypost.com/2022/05/16/rickie-fowler-still-easy-to-root-for-amid-fall-from-top/ Rickie Fowler is still easy to find while falling from above

JOE HERNANDEZ

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