Rickie's breakthrough? It's about time

By John P. Borneman
Published on
Rickie's breakthrough? It's about time

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Rickie Fowler's 2015 season includes wins at the Players Championship, the Scottish Open on the European Tour and, two weeks ago in the second round of the FedEx Cup playoffs, the Deutsche Bank Championship.

It's about time.

"It's been a good year as far as being able to get the door knocked down," Fowler said on Wednesday, Sept. 16, on the eve of the BMW Championship in Lake Forest. "Last year, I put myself in positions to win, and this year I finally took care of business, and I've been able to rack up a few trophies."

The 26-year-old Fowler is No. 5 in the World Golf Ranking and No. 3 in the standings for the FedEx Cup playoffs, the third round of which will be played at Conway Farms Golf Club from Thursday, Sept. 17-Sunday, Sept. 20. But while he's long been a fan favorite, his only other victory on the PGA Tour came at the 2012 Wells Fargo Championship.

He's shown a knack for getting himself in the mix -- in 2014 alone he tied for fifth at the Masters, tied for second at the U.S. Open and British Open and tied for third at the PGA Championship. He also closed the 2014 season with top 10s in seven of the final eight events. It wasn't until the Players Championship in May that he started closing.

In some ways, the near misses have been a positive. Fowler's wins have featured some dramatic moments, most memorably when he beat Sergio Garcia and Kevin Kisner in a playoff at the Players Championship. Fowler ended the tournament by making birdie on the signature hole at TPC Sawgrass, the island par-3 17th. His iron approach landed a few feet right of the hole on a small patch of green between the pin and the water.

Fowler joked on Wednesday, Sept. 16, that there was room right of the flag, but it's not the kind of shot one plays without a ton of confidence.

"I've been in situations before where I have failed," Fowler said. "I feel like as a professional golfer, you deal with that a lot. It's not like winning is a normal thing. You know, sometimes you have to look and feel success in a top 20, a top 10, a top 5."

Fowler is experiencing a different kind of success in 2015, and as a result, he's pushing the top players in golf. He'll spend his first two rounds at Conway Farms playing alongside Jordan Spieth and Jason Day, both of whom have a chance to take the No. 1 spot in the World Golf Ranking from Rory McIlroy.

"It was kind of Jordan, Rory and myself that everyone was talking about," Day said. "Now with Rickie having a three-win season ... he's kind of inserted himself in that conversation now, as well."

That's a conversation Fowler is eager to be part of, and a fourth victory this season would give him an even better case.

"I want to get in the mix come Sunday, the final nine or the final few holes, and go get the job done," Fowler said. "I'm definitely not scared of it."