Rickie Fowler, a man with all the potential in the world, who now approaching 30 needs to start fulfilling it, or risk being left behind by his peers.
It is well known that Fowler, Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas are close friends, but whilst Spieth and Thomas are both major winners, Fowler is still looking for his first. It isn’t just the majors though, Fowler is still on four PGA Tour wins, Thomas won six times last season alone.
That said, Fowler is still an exceptional talent who regardless of whether he should win more or not, is good enough to win at any time.
In 2014 he famously finished inside the top-5 at all four majors, including T5 here at Augusta. This was an outstanding achievement in itself but also added to the frustration, as he looks for that elusive major title.
Fowler made his first five straight cuts at Augusta, including his top-5 finish in 2014, which was a great start. Since he has still only missed one cut and finish T12 or higher in three of his last four starts, so clearly enjoys the layout.
Whilst there is grounds to criticize Fowler’s lack of wins, especially now that he’s been an established pro for almost ten years now, but he consistently plays at a high level and his record here should be admired.
Rickie will want to build on his good record here, by getting himself right amongst the leaders late on Sunday and turn any doubters into believers, as well as proving to himself that he is every bit as good as those around him in the World Rankings.
Why he can win the 2018 Masters
As already touched upon, Fowler CAN win at any time, but whether he can avoid a blow-up hole at the wrong time, to do it in a major championship still remains to be seen. Talent-wise, there is no doubting he can this year’s Masters, or any of the other three majors for that matter, so he will be hoping to run good in two weeks’ time.
One of Fowler’s main strengths generally is his putting. Rarely do you ever see him leave a putt short, and generally they go in with authority. You can’t be scared to putt on Augusta greens, otherwise you will lose plenty of strokes a round and Fowler will know that, as he tees it up here for the eight time this year.
His approach stats (12th in SG: Approach) and Tee-to-Green game (25th in SG: Tee-to-Green) are in fine shape this season, however his putter is uncharacteristically letting him down this year. Fowler currently ranks 127th in SG: Putting, which by his lofty standards is nowhere near good enough.
Over the past five years he has only ended the season outside the top-37 in SG:Putting once (64th in 2016) and last year ranked a career-best 2nd, so for him to regress so poorly on that front this season is obviously a concern.
It won’t be long before he finds a better stroke, so as long as he keeps his long-game in check, he should be just fine over the course of the season. He hasn’t got long before the Masters rolls around though, so he needs to find something quick on the greens, if he is to come out on top.
He took the week off last week, opting to skip the WGC Match Play in Austin, so had time to iron out some kinks, before playing in Houston this week.
Fowler has played in Houston for the last four years straight, in preparation for the Masters and has finished inside the top-10 on three occasions in that time. His best finish there was his T3 last season and he will be looking for similar, in order to give him a confidence boost ahead of his first major this season.
All in all, Fowler’s chances at Augusta are as obvious as ever, despite the concern surrounding his putting at present. He loves the course, he has plenty of previous here and we know he is good enough to turn up and win on any given week, it just remains to be seen what that transpires to, this time around.