Fowler silences critics with US Open success

Rickie Fowler said he felt very happy about the week at the US Open. He survived the sinister Pinehurst greens and a layout which brought some of the world’s best players to their knees.

“When I was inside the ropes, it didn’t feel like the US Open to me,” Fowler said. “I felt that comfortable.”

Rickie Fowler Rickie Fowler hits his tee shot during the final round of the 2014 US Open (Credit: USGA/Darren Carroll)

Fowler’s game has been a work in progress with swing coach Butch Harmon since the end of last year following the death of former coach Barry McDonnell in 2011. While Fowler has shown improvement, he has also missed the cut in three of six events since the Masters.

During the week at Pinehurst, Fowler revealed not just how much of a talent he is, but also his true sportsmanship.

Fowler’s week started with a tribute to the late Payne Stewart, a Thursday outfit of knickers and argyle socks to memorialise a man he called ‘one of my all-time favourites.’

The fact Fowler was 10-years-old when Stewart won the 1999 Open at Pinehurst showed his devotion to golf history.

On Sunday, Fowler then went with his signature all-orange outfit which the fans, young and old just love. Several young ones appeared at Pinehurst in head-to-toe orange outfits and it’s now become a tournament norm for many on Sundays.

I first met Fowler in 2008 at the World Amateur Championships where he won the individual title after Scotland won the team’s event. Fowler stood above the pack in Adelaide against a field where you knew only one percent go on to make it.

He returned the next year to play our biggest amateur event, the Australian Master of the Amateurs, only to get pipped by fellow countryman Mark Anderson on the third extra sudden death playoff hole. Even back then Fowler’s style of play was exciting and his professionalism both on and off course was second to none.

Fowler was that one percent that went on to make it. Six years later and one PGA Tour victory he’s now on top of the world’s golfing stage.

At Pinehurst the 25-year-old world number 39 shot even-par 70 on Thursday and Friday then followed up with a 67 to put himself in the final group in a major championship.

On Sunday Fowler stood by the edge of the 18th green at Pinehurst, hat in hand, trimmer hair than in his early days, and the consummate professional.

Fowler didn’t finish the US Open as champion, carding a 2-over 72 to finish runner-up, but he certainly acted like one.

In his last four US Open finishes Fowler had missed the cut, tied 41st, tied 10th, tied 2nd. His last two at the Masters have been tied 38th and tied 5th.

A major will eventually come his way.

“It’s kind of the same way handling rounds at the US Open here,” Fowler said about winning a major.

“You can’t get ahead of yourself, you have to stay patient, have to stay in the moment and keep going through the process.”

“We’re going to continue to do this and keep my game progressing the right way, and it’s just a matter of time.”