Rickie Fowler's game is coming together at the right time as he bids to challenge for his first Major Championship at the 2014 Masters
Words: Robin Barwick
It’s unofficial, but in a Tuesday practice match at Augusta National, Rickie Fowler posted nine birdies and an eagle as he partnered Phil Mickelson to a 2&1 fourball triumph over Jason Dufner and Dustin Johnson. Fowler and Mickelson combined to shoot a better-ball score of 59, 13 under par.
There has been a lot of talk about the chances this week of reigning Open champion Mickelson, reigning PGA champion Dufner and world number-11 Johnson, but perhaps it is world number-39 Fowler who should be attracting the attention at Augusta this week.
“It was Phil and I against Dustin and Dufner,” said Fowler at an event last night hosted by Mercedes-Benz. “Dustin and Jason wanted revenge for a match we had at Doral, when we took them on, but they didn’t get it.”
Message to US Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson: Mickelson-Fowler could work at Gleneagles – not so sure about Dufner-Johnson though. Fowler scored superbly on one of the toughest golf courses in the world here, and did it despite constant distractions from his own playing partner.
“It’s free game out there,” admits Fowler, “Even from my own partner. Phil made a birdie on eight, and I had a 10-footer to take me to five-under par, and he was telling me he thought the putt was going left, even though it was going a cup to the right. He said: ‘It breaks left early,’ and I was thinking, ‘No it doesn’t’. Phil was trying to get into my head, even when he is my own partner. I went ahead and made the putt and we moved on.
“Phil loves throwing little jabs in there, and he talks the whole time. We walked off the ninth tee, two up at the time, and Phil said, ‘You know, in the history of these matches over the past 20 years, no-one has ever won a match from four down’. Dustin said: ‘We’re not four down’, and Phil said: ‘Yeah, but when we win two more holes the match will virtually be over’. We were having a good time.”
After an inconsistent start to the 2104 PGA Tour season, Fowler feels his game is coming together at the right time.
“I am in a really good spot with my game right now,” says the 25-year-old, who has not won since the 2012 Wells Fargo Championship. “This year for me has seen what golf can be like. I was swinging the club really well earlier in the year, but missed three cuts because I was not getting the ball up and down.
“I got my game going at the Accenture Match Play, and then after a couple of decent tournaments I played well last week, so it is nice to have everything trending in the right direction, particularly coming into this week.”
Fowler tees off with Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell and American Jimmy Walker at 9:35 tomorrow in the first round.
Robin Barwick travelled to Augusta National courtesy of Mercedes-Benz, Global Sponsor of the 2014 Masters Tournament.