Is 2018 the year Fowler finally breaks his major duck?January 8, 2018 The Scoop
Rickie Fowler is one of the most popular 'nearly men' on tour - but is 2018 his time to shine? Mark Townsend and Joe Urquhart argue in this week's Alternate Shot
Yes, says Mark Townsend
It has to be at some point and what’s not to like about Rickie? He might not be a serial winner but he’s won the Players in brilliant style, one of four wins on the PGA Tour by the age of 29, and his major record is hugely impressive save for the lack of a ‘W’.
Sadly (for the players) there are only four majors every year so the really good ones will be judged on their efforts in these. And if you don’t win then it’s not been ‘your year’.
Look at Justin Rose – we’ll all look back on his 2017 and quickly recall the loss to Sergio Garcia at Augusta and equally as quickly forget his juggernaut end to his campaign. Fowler is routinely asked about his lack of major success much like Lee Westwood, Colin Montgomerie and, for many years, Phil Mickelson and Garcia were. Mickelson did it at his 47th major, the Spaniard his 74th.
This is all early days for Fowler, he’s only played 32 majors and he’s not yet 30 but he’s still had eight top 10s and performed on the highest stage. All you can do, as we are constantly reminded by the players, is to ‘put yourself in the frame and give yourself a chance’.
If you keep doing that then the door will finally open. Fowler keeps putting himself in the frame and he and Butch are addressing the odd concern to tighten up his game for 2018. And he’s more than happy to discuss the major elephant in the room.
“Goals going forward this year are, I would say, the biggest and main one is get a major. I think I did a good job last year of putting myself in contention multiple times but there needs to be some better weekends to make sure that we’re on top come Sunday afternoon. So that’s the main goal this year.”
He’ll do it soon enough, he’s too good not to.
No, says Joe Urquhart
Sorry, folks. I’m afraid that 2018 isn’t the year of the Rickie.
You see, unfortunately, or fortunately depending on the way you look at it, I have earmarked 2019 down as the American’s time to shine.
He’s going to win two and it’s going to be awesome.
Fowler’s first triumph will come at Pebble Beach in the form of the US Open. Then, yes, you guessed it, it’s another Rickie victory.
This time it’s Royal Portrush as the venue as the Open returns to Northern Irish shores for the first time in nearly 70 years.
So, as you can see Fowler fans, it’s not all doom and gloom.
The reason I say this is down to his love of links golf and being inventive among the elements. Oh, and his admiration for Ireland that has seen countless appearances at the national open.
He has made no secret of his love for the British shores so where best to grab his maiden major win than at the most similar course on US soil.
For his Royal Portrush triumph please see above.
I have no doubt that the 29-year-old will put himself in contention over the next four majors but the competition will be fierce and I don’t believe that any of 2018’s venues suit his game quite like Pebble or Portrush.
Jordan Spieth already has the Masters in the bag, as does Justin Thomas with the US Open at Shinnecock Hills.
So that leaves the Open at Carnoustie, where Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia will fight it out in a playoff with Rickie a close third, and the PGA Championship.
There is no doubt the USPGA offers the best chance for Fowler in 2018.
Seven of the last eight PGA Championship winners have been first-time major champions, including the last three straight.
But please hold out, Rickie. It’s not the one you want or really deserve.
Oh, and Brian Harman takes that one.