Rickie Fowler opens up on Team USA's recent Ryder Cup struggles and why he was so crushed to miss out on a Presidents Cup spot first time round
Rickie Fowler shakes my hand and offers me a half-hearted greeting. I wonder if I’ve done something to upset him. I can’t have done, I’ve only known him for 15 seconds. Perhaps, like me, he doesn’t enjoy the humidity. I know we’re in Florida – Palm Beach International Raceway, an hour up the road from Miami, to be precise – but it’s October for goodness’ sake and I’m really not prepared for it.
A few moments before, I’d overheard another journalist cheekily ask him if Presidents Cup captain Tiger Woods had given him the nod for Melbourne. We were still a couple of days away but Fowler’s reaction made it very clear he already knew he wasn’t in.
Later that week, Woods announced Tony Finau, Gary Woodland and Patrick Reed as his picks – unfathomable given Fowler was the first player in the standings to miss out on automatic qualification.
I make a mental note to adjust my questions slightly. After all, I’m not interested in annoying him any more. So midway through our chat I ask him why, with the odd exception, the US team has spent the last 30 years getting annihilated at the Ryder Cup. To soften the blow slightly, I’m interested to know why that contrasts so differently to the Presidents Cup, of which the US has lost just one.
“I wish I knew the answer,” he tells NCG. “It all comes down to that week. It’s a toss-up.
“Obviously both sides are the best players in the world representing country or continent. It all comes down to which side plays better and who makes more putts.”
He pauses for a moment.
“The damn European team just keeps killing us.”
Fowler’s personal win rate in team events is a modest 43 per cent – taking 10 points from 23 to date – but when the US has been victorious with Fowler in the team – 2015 and 2017 Presidents Cups and 2016 Ryder Cup – that rises to 59 per cent, which makes Woods’ decision even more baffling.
But it certainly hasn’t dampened Fowler’s desire to be part of the team in future.
“The team events are some of the most fun weeks of the year and your career,” he says, suddenly a bit chirpier. “Especially when you talk to guys like Tiger and Phil about it.
“They’re special weeks. It would be a lot more fun being on the winning side more often, but at least I’ve gotten to see the winning side of a Ryder Cup at Hazeltine. But it hasn’t been a good run for 20 or so years for the US in the Ryder Cup.”
Fowler may not have the answers now, but does tackling the issue head on as a captain one day interest him?
“I would love to,” Fowler says, suddenly much chirpier. “It would be a blast.”
Not long after our meeting, there’s a dramatic twist as Brooks Koepka tells the world he hasn’t recovered from a knee injury he picked up slipping on some wet cement at the CJ Cup. Fowler is immediately announced as the World No. 1’s replacement for the trip to Melbourne.
If only Koepka could have made his mind up a couple of weeks earlier…
The full Rickie Fowler interview
Watch our full interview with Rickie Fowler in the video above or on our YouTube channel.
As well as the Presidents and Ryder Cups, the eight-time PGA and European Tour champion discusses his career to date, why the 2020 Olympics are so important to him and has his say on the updates to the Rules of Golf.
He also answers a series of readers’ questions – including a potential return of Golf Boys, the McIlroy vs. Koepka debate, and who’s the most famous non-golfer in his phone?