Rickie Fowler can be counted on to make a splash this week at Chambers Bay. Whether or not it’s the type he wants to make is yet to be determined.
Fowler wears near-blinding bright orange on Sundays. He’s sporting head-to-toe orange in honor of his alma mater, Oklahoma State University.
But Fowler wants to be known for more than what he’s best known for: those loud outfits and close calls in major championships.
The 26-year-old made history last season by finishing in the top five in all four majors. Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus both did this twice, but Fowler is the first to do it without winning.
Spurred on by those near misses and his victory in May at The Players Championship, Fowler said he is ready to take the next step.
“I think I’m very much ready to go get in contention in a major and get the job done,” he said.
He’d like to turn Oklahoma State University’s success at Chambers Bay into a winning streak. During his 2010 PGA Rookie of the Year season, Fowler watched friend and fellow OSU golfer Peter Uihlein win the U.S. Amateur at Chambers Bay.
Fowler and Uihlein haven’t compared notes on the course.
“For the most part, with the way the golf course is, I really felt like it was a course where I had to go see it and kind of learn for myself,” Fowler said. “Visually, I may see something different than another player. I may be comfortable with a certain shot versus something that someone else will hit.”
Fowler also hopes to follow in the footsteps of Martin Kaymer, who won The Players Championship last year and rode the momentum into the U.S. Open, which he dominated in an eight-stroke victory.
“I’d love to go do the same as he did last year,” Fowler said. “And I really feel comfortable on this golf course. I love playing links golf. I’ve played well in the British Open overseas. And being that I have played well in the U.S. Open, I feel like putting the two together with the links style and U.S. Open setup could turn out to be a great week.”
Kaymer called Fowler’s come-from-behind victory at The Players Championship “brave.” Fowler trailed Sergio Garcia by five strokes during the final round. He played the final six holes at 6-under-par to catch Garcia. Fowler won the playoff.
“After my performance last year in the majors, I really felt like I solidified it to myself that I belonged on the big stage and kind of proved that this is the kind of game I have …” Fowler said. “With getting the win and taking care of business at The Players, that’s where I want to be. I want to be in contention, and I want to go out and win golf tournaments.”
Fowler played two practice holes Wednesday morning before running into a three-group traffic jam on the 12th tee box. He waited about 15 minutes, launched a drive up the fairway and then shook hands with his playing partners.
A pair of Pierce County sheriff deputies escorted him back to the driving range and practice green, where he said he could make the most use of his time — and conserve a little energy for the four long days to come.
When he tees of Thursday afternoon at 2:28 p.m., he’ll be the only player in his threesome without a major championship. He’s playing with Tiger Woods, winner of 14 majors, and 2010 British Open champ Louis Oosthuizen.
He’s ready to join them. And he’s ready for the challenge of Chambers Bay
“You have to be ready for anything,” Fowler said. “And with this setup on a links golf course, you have to understand that there will be some bounces that may not go your way. So as much as it tests your game, it tests you mentally even more so.”