TULSA — Friday has an inherent finality. Half know it’s going to be fired, packing with their dreams of everything that could happen this week. However, such an end usually has a paradox because it is short-lived: next week will bring a new event, with new challenges and new aspirations, requiring separation, if not complete forgetting, of whatever happened before. if.
But on this Friday, in this PGA Championship, the idea of ending and beginning had a different direct impact on Ricky Fowler. He’s caught up in a strange gift, made stranger by an unknown tomorrow, which leads to this somewhat unbelievable fact: This may be Fowler’s last major appearance.
Literally, Fowler will have a tomorrow in South Hills. Coming from a tie late Thursday/early Friday (with a one-shot higher average on Thursday afternoon), Fowler will need to hold steady in strong winds to have a chance of seeing Saturday’s game. His answer was that he overcame a shaky putting performance to stop the big numbers — going 3-for-3 on sand saves and 80 percent on scrambles — to deliver an even-par 70. His two-day 141 was 10 behind leader Will Zalatoris, but Fowler’s score kept him safe for the weekend. That’s a bit notable in itself, considering Fowler has missed five of his past nine promotions.
“Yeah, obviously there’s a lot of good stuff, bad conditions yesterday afternoon and then windy today, so it’s not a bad place to end up with just one guy,” Fowler said later.
About that performance. Fowler, 33, is now in his third year of a downturn. Once ranked fourth in the world, he is now ranked 146th. The last of Fowler’s five PGA Tour victories came in February 2019, he missed last year’s FedExCup playoffs, and the trend hasn’t been much better this season, finishing in the top 20 in just 13 games. name. At some point, it was no longer a struggle, but his new reality. That point is still far away, but it is visible.
Fowler’s recent struggles are well documented. However, what gives his destiny an existential quality this week is what Fowler said at the start.
In a meeting with the media in Nanshan on Monday, Fowler admitted that he was considering entering the LIV Golf Series. His remarks caught some by surprise, especially after many of the game’s biggest names publicly distanced themselves from Saudi-backed groups. Also interesting are the comments later in the media session. When asked if he understood the consequences of standing with LIV Golf — the PGA Tour denies the conflict’s release and Commissioner Jay Monaghan promises suspensions or possible injunctions for those who defect — — Fowler said:
“I don’t know, I want to learn as much as possible,” Fowler said. “I don’t have any commitments. Obviously, the statement made last week said they didn’t give any release. I think a lot of people think the first one going abroad might not be a problem. Obviously once it gets into the U.S., I’m sure there will be some consequences, but I I really don’t know now.”
As multiple sources associated with the Tour told Golf Digest, the Tour’s message has been consistent with the players’ stance against LIV Golf. “He knows that,” a source told Golf Digest earlier this week. Fowler hasn’t made a decision at this stage, which suggests (at least for the Tour), sources said.
Meaning, should the tour live up to its threat if Fowler decides to play LIV golf, and whether the groups hosting the majors should follow the tour’s lead (PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh this week). ) recorded emotions), which could be Ricky Fowler’s last appearance at a recognized event. That’s a lot of assumptions. This doesn’t reduce the likelihood.
Most of those who attended Friday’s South Hills lost that potential. Part of that is the DNA of the gallery. Most fans attending tours and majors are casual bystanders. They have little or no knowledge of an emerging entity trying to disrupt the sport. All these fans know about Fowler is that he digs oranges and shakes mullets. That’s enough for them.
Of course, from casual observer to ardent observer, Fowler remains one of the most popular figures in the sport, and his performance be damned. Fowler, despite his struggles, was placed in a featured group, which speaks to his gravitational pull.
There wasn’t much to gain from these two days of PGA games other than the Tiger/Rory/Jordan super pairing. The only exception was the atmosphere around Fowler, who played college ball on the road to Stillwater.
This is not a circus. Not too big either. His golf, while good, wasn’t particularly exciting, hitting 16 on Friday with a par and a bogey. But wherever he went, Fowler heard screams about his name.Fans don’t care if they’re watching Ricky Fowler, superstar or The player’s real name is Ricky Fowler. They just wanted to meet Fowler, cheer for Fowler and let him know he’s still their man.
“Still.” Golf has been so focused on Fowler’s mistakes that we forget who he used to be. His game, of course; the man who won the 2015 Players Championship and trailed Patrick Reed in the 2018 Masters, the man who played 7 times for Team USA in the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup, a T-5/T- 2/T- The man ranked 2/T-3 in the 2014 majors, joining Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as the only players to reach the top five of the Final Four in one year . Those performances sparked our expectations for him, and ones he hasn’t come close to yet.
One of the greatest sins in sports is the unfulfilled perception of talent. That perception isn’t helped by a notorious quote from his former teacher, Butch Harmon, who asked Fowler if he wanted to “be a Kardashian, or be a golf pro?” The ubiquity in the ad sparked complaints from golf experts that Fowler was overrated and overexposed. Unfortunately, that belief overshadows what he has accomplished, which is a lot. It also glosses over the fact that Fowler is not just a rare bird for a player. He’s one of the face of the Tour’s youth revolution, filling in and then filling in some more when the game desperately needed an engaging, likable personality. He’s not hypocritical; when the cameras are off, Fowler’s charities and acts of kindness are legendary. One might argue that the same player who is overexposed is vastly underrated.
What’s next? Tournament officials confirmed to Golf Digest that Fowler will compete in next week’s Charles Schwab Challenge. He hasn’t been announced to play at the memorial; Fowler listed Florida rather than Ohio as the primary U.S. Open final qualifier (he’s not currently playing at country club either), suggesting he’s not looking forward to Dublin’s invitation . The following week is the LIV Golf series opener. Given the advanced age of the other players associated with LIV Golf, and the collective lack of interest among those players’ U.S. fans (for a 51-year-old who didn’t come here to defend his PGA title this week), Fowler’s theoretical involvement Would be a coup for LIV. It could also end his ties to the tour and damage his standing with the golfing public. If you want to see Fowler in the future, you may have to do so on YouTube.
But it can also be argued that Fowler is no longer needed. The game now has many likeables, and the youth revolution he led is now eternal. Friday’s proceedings answered any questions about that. Working Fowler’s featured partner is Smylie Kaufman, Fowler’s friend and PGA Tour champion. Kaufman, 30, is transitioning from player to broadcaster. Behind Fowler’s group are the world’s top three players Scotty Schaeffler, Jon Rahm and Colin Morikawa. At least on Friday, the crowd didn’t move around like Fowler did, but stayed put to see what was going on. Yes, they loudly support Fowler. But he wasn’t the main attraction. Ultimately, all infatuation goes with the flow.
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