Rickie's Return: A Major Chance?
Despite a scruffy final round at the Honda Classic, Rickie Fowler managed to secure his fourth PGA Tour win and first since capturing the Deutsche Bank Championship in September 2015.
Having held a 54 hole lead on four previous occasions without visiting the winner's circle, questions were being asked by many observers about the new world number nine’s ability to seal the deal. It was imperative that Fowler got over the line on Sunday at PGA National.
Take a look at the highlights of Rickie’s final round:
Return to Victory
Although back on winning form, questions remain whether the Honda Classic champion can take a progressive step and return to his Jupiter home with a maiden major trophy safely tucked away.
The 2014 major golfing calendar was littered with top 5 finishes for Fowler. Two tied second places at both the US Open and Open Championship pointed even further towards major-winning credentials – though, admittedly, he was a full eight strokes behind Martin Kaymer at Pinehurst.
While his major performances since have been less than stellar, Fowler did benefit from the confidence boost which came at Hazeltine last year, as Team USA wrestled the Ryder Cup away from the Europeans. He played a leading role in that success and carried this form through the wrap-around season and into 2017.
Last week’s solid driving and imperious putting inside 8 feet were key to his success. Indeed, these traits are often the hallmarks of major champions. Fowler's partnership with Butch Harmon has paid dividends in this regard since they started working together in 2013, and their efforts this year have already struck the right chord.
A Major Chance?
There is plenty supporting the notion that 2017 could bring a first major.
At the age of 28, Fowler has enough experience behind him to know how to deal with the pressure of contending at the head of prestigious tournaments, and now has the monkey off his back in terms of closing out a third round lead.
He is in the early prime of his career and just a few years away from the average age of a maiden golfing major winner – that being 32. Also, the current major championship trend favours maiden winners – Willett, DJ, Stenson and Walker all broke their duck in 2016.
Tempering that notion a little, the truth is that there are numerous golfers with the ability to win on any given Sunday, such is the competitiveness of the current field. Rickie is firmly in that grouping of players who could win – but, as many have found out over the years, that fact guarantees absolutely nothing. Just ask Westwood, Sergio et al.
Fowler’s first chance comes in April at Augusta. The calmness and renewed vigour provided by getting that early season win may help take him to the ‘Promised Land’.
We're excited to see how it unfolds.