TULSA, Okla. – Everyone in golf knows Rickie Fowler is in trouble.
On Monday, speaking to reporters ahead of this week’s PGA Championship in Southern Hills, Fowler was asked if he had sought help from a sports psychologist to improve his mental game.
“I don’t know if I should throw names out there or not,” Fowler said after a pause.
The reporter went on to ask, “Is there more than one?”
“No,” Fowler said with a smile. “I mean, I’m not that messed up.”
That’s why you support Rickie Fowler. He is responsible. He doesn’t run or hide from difficult questions even though he knows their theme is going to be uncomfortable.
Fowler has been lost in the woods for about two years now. Not literally in the woods. Metaphorically.
When you watched the Masters champ last month and didn’t see Fowler’s name on the roster as well as the Players Championship the month before, that seemed shocking if you’re a Fowler fan.
Fowler is just 33 and has been a fixture in major leagues, coming so close to winning more than one that he’s become the poster child as ‘best player ever’. never to have won a major title.
Do you remember when he finished in the top five of the four majors in 2014? It was only a matter of time before he walked through that door. Felt almost inevitable.
It seems to go back a few lifetimes. Fowler, whose world ranking has dropped to No. 146, would still like to be seen as the face of that title because that would at least mean he’s in contention.
Fowler is in the PGA Championship pack this week due to his tie for eighth in last year’s PGA at Kiawah Island. Without that finish, he wouldn’t be on the pitch this week.
And, without a win in Southern Hills this week, Fowler will have to go through grueling sectional qualifying to qualify for the US Open and British Open.
“Going through that is never fun,” Fowler said. “I actually enjoyed it as much as it sucked. Not that I ever fell in love with the game or anything, but I embraced the grind…even though we’ve been on rough times.
“It’s more just building trust right now. I feel like over the last two years it’s been really hard to build momentum, and momentum is really what builds confidence and you can kind of start riding that wave. There was no swell. I couldn’t get anything up.”
Fowler had a small spike in results with a tie for eighth at the PGA last year and then a tie for third at the CJ Cup, but never rode the wave. His last result was a tie for 21st at Wells Fargo a few weeks ago.
“The finish I had at Wells Fargo a few weeks ago wasn’t great, but eventually I started to see a few things that were starting to go in the right direction where I was digging myself deeper holes in the past [which] you can’t do it here, he said. “You can’t back down.”
Fowler came out of his two years playing at Oklahoma State on fire. He was successful on the golf course, a fixture on the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup teams, a member of the cool PGA Tour crowd, and he too became a marketing icon.
“He was a game-changer for golf, I think, from a cultural perspective,” Talor Gooch, another Oklahoma State alumnus, told The Post on Monday. “I think he’s had as much of an impact on the game as anyone else in the last 20 years. When Tiger [Woods] went out, with how many children did you see [Nike] swooshes on their hats and red shirts? You can argue that when Rickie came out, just as many kids were wearing orange shirts and flat-bill caps.
Fowler was an example for Gooch to follow, except Gooch didn’t find the early success out of college that Fowler did, working hard on the lesser tours, like the MacKenzie Tour in Canada, before finally breaking through with his first win last year. Classic RSM.
“You can’t see what he’s done and not think, ‘This is what I want to do,'” Gooch said.
Gooch said he didn’t speak to Fowler about his struggles, saying, “Like in any other sport, you don’t want to talk to a guy when he’s struggling, like, ‘Why are you playing badly? ‘
“We all know that golf appeals to everyone at some point. It’s only a matter of time before he plays well and becomes one of the best players in the world again. I have no doubt about it.”
Neither does Fowler.
“I know it’s there,” Fowler said.
When will he find him?
“It’s just going to make her story much better in the end,” Gooch said.
New York Post