Rickie Fowler taking confidence from last year's near win into 2019 Masters tournament
One more shot.
That's all Rickie Fowler said he needed during the final round of the Masters Tournament last year.
But he started too far behind Patrick Reed and Reed never flinched, winning by one despite Fowler's closing birdie at No. 18.
Still, in a career of close calls in majors, it was Fowler's best chance. Rather than dampen his spirits, he said he took more encouragement than ever from his 65-67 finish on the weekend, which was six shots lower than Reed.
The only problem is that Fowler began the third round seven shots behind Reed and started the fourth round five behind.
"A lot of confidence was taken from last year," Fowler said on Monday during a news conference at the Augusta National media center. "I've been in similar positions before going into the weekend and either not had the Saturday or not had the Sunday I wanted. The way I executed on the back nine Sunday last year was definitely something I pull from. It was a lot of fun to be in the mix and make Patrick earn it a bit. But was just a little bit too far back. Time to do one better."
Combine that positive attitude with a good season so far and it's easy to see why Fowler is entering this week on a high.
He won the Waste Management Open in Scottsdale, Arizona, for his fifth PGA Tour title, tied for second behind Keith Mitchell in the Honda Classic and is ninth on this week's World Golf Ranking and eighth on the Tour's FedEx Cup points list.
Fowler has had better ball-striking years but here's one sign of encouragement: he's eighth on the Tour's strokes gained-putting index, which has been the main factor in entering the week 12th in scoring at 69.887.
"Definitely feel good where the game is at," said Fowler, who tied for 17th at the Valero Texas Open last week. "I feel like I was able to check a lot of boxes leading into this week and make sure that everything is either where I want it or figure out the few things I want to work on and tighten up going into this week."
Is it his time? pic.twitter.com/EaW2ril1BZ— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) April 9, 2019
Fowler's runner-up finish last year was his eighth career top-10 in a major championship and his fourth finish of 12th or higher at Augusta National in the past five years. But it was the first time where a stroke in his favor -- or against the player who eventually won -- could have tipped the balance.
The closest Fowler came to at least forcing a playoff in a major were two-stroke deficits in the 2014 Open Championship and PGA Championship — which was the year he finished fifth or better in all four majors.
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But he was six shots behind Bubba Watson in the Masters and eight behind Martin Kaymer in the U.S. Open that year.
Last year, he at least had the knowledge that he was in position in the clubhouse should Reed have faltered and left Augusta National knowing there was little more that he could have done.
"I left it all out there," he said. "It would have been nice if there was one more hole. I hit the shots that I wanted to ... I was happy with how I played."
This article is written by Garry Smits from The Florida Times-Union and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.