Fowler Leads the Way at the U.S. Open
ERIN, WI_ When other big names were retreating during Thursday’s first round of the 117th US Open — it was Rickie Fowler who showed much with an opening round 65 which leads the way by one stroke in the battle for the national championship of American golf.
For the 28-year-old the wherewithal to come out strong sends a very clear message that the 9th ranked player in the world is intent on securing his first major championship of his career.
The journey for Fowler has been an up and down one at times. Earlier this year Fowler lost control of the Waste Management event — one that he should have won. A victory did happen shortly thereafter at The Honda Classic but when The Masters was played it was Fowler who crumbled during the final round shooting a lack luster 76 dropped him to a tie for 11th. Two weeks ago Fowler shared 2nd place at The Memorial but took a step backwards in missing last week’s cut at the FedEx St. Jude Classic in Memphis.
In 2014 Fowler excelled in the majors with no finish less than 5th in all four events. What looked promising has not happened thus far.
Rickie’s first round 65 tied the US Open record for most shots under-par when beginning the quest for the second major event of ’17. The issue is not about where Rickie starts but how he finishes.
.@RickieFowler went low in Round 1 of the U.S. Open.
Really low. pic.twitter.com/FkqETlNBwd
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) June 15, 2017
Winning a major golf championship is the ultimate validator. One need only ask Sergio Garcia how his life and position in the golf pecking order changed significantly when he donned the green jacket after winning at Augusta this past April.
The tag — “best player never to have won a major” is one Rickie understands has a duel meaning. To be acknowledged as the “best player” is meaningful but the flip side is having to remove the weight of never having won on golf’s grandest stages. Some players are able to do that — others never do.
Fowler has won on the PGA Tour and his win in 2015 at The Player’s Championship showed a golf form of sustained brilliance. Rickie’s play at the first round at Erin Hills was solid from the moment the round began and he clearly took advantage of ideal conditions in order to take the early lead. But the more important issue is can Rickie truly break through and be a part of the main golf storyline that exists for such stalwart players as Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Jordan Spieth.
Rickie gets plenty of attention for his appearance on the course. The younger fans have always flocked to him given his magnetic personality.
The US Open is not won with the first round — it can be lost though for those who fail to get into some sort of position for the remaining three rounds.
The intensity of the pressure will only grow with each passing round. Can Fowler build on what he so skillfully did in the first round? That will be the key question as the championship proceed ahead.
Rickie Fowler fully understands the stakes involved. A US Open victory would show that the talented California-native is far much more than the Texas expression that he is all hat and no cattle. For Fowler – the finishing push will show if he’s truly ready to ascend to the top of the stage.
We shall soon see.