ORLANDO, Fla. – Remember when Rickie Fowler seemed to have the world by the neck, when every golf fan wanted to be him, when grown men would go to tournaments dressed like him, decked out in his signature head-to-toe orange palette?
Well, the fight is real now for Fowler, whose game has been spiraling for the past year with no end in sight.
No one knows when it will end, least of all Fowler, who continues to struggle to find his old magic on earth.
Jordan Spieth, one of Fowler’s close friends, knows the heartache his friend is enduring, because he has been living through it since his last win, the 2017 British Open. Spieth has only recently begun to emerge from a slump that lasted for about three years.
“For him, and I think and for me too, the hardest thing to fight is when you’ve been very successful [before] and therefore it is almost impossible to fight in silence, in the dark and do your job in the dark, ” Spieth said Wednesday before the Arnold Palmer Invitational, which begins Thursday at Bay Hill.
Fowler, known as much for his prolific marketability as he is for his golf, doesn’t do much anonymity. He’s more visible than many players with twice his resume, and that brings some criticism.
Take Tuesday, for example, when CBS golf analyst Nick Faldo took to Twitter to unleash an unprovoked low blow against Fowler.
Fowler, whose world ranking has plummeted to No. 65, is in serious danger of missing the Masters for the first time in a decade. He’s played in 41 consecutive major championships, but unless he wins a PGA Tour event or is back in the top 50 before next month’s tournament at Augusta National, that impressive streak will come to an unceremonious end.
Fowler, a five-time PGA Tour winner who was once ranked No. 4 in the world, has missed the cut in 10 of his last 25 starts and hasn’t finished in the top 10 in 21 starts. dating back to January 2020.
Earlier this week, Fowler estimated that he spends 25-30 days a year filming commercials for his sponsors.
Enter Faldo’s salvo.
“The good news is that if you miss the Masters, you can shoot another six commercials that week.” Faldo chirped on social media..
Kick one of the nicest players in the sport when he’s downed. Classy stuff from “Sir” Nick, who has delivered more than a few moments poking fun at himself; luckily for him, they came before Twitter.
“There will be a lot of noise and a lot of emphasis on results versus truly understanding what your end goal is and how long it can take you to golf,” Spieth said. “We saw a non-human in Tiger Woods being able to make massive changes faster than is probably realistic for almost anyone else.
“I think fighting publicly when you’re someone like Rickie makes it difficult, which is why blocking noise is so important and sticking with what you’re doing is so important.”
Fowler admitted that his problems on the golf course have affected him off the golf course. There has been some friction between him and his caddy, Joe Skovron, and not bringing his poor game home to his wife has been difficult.
“It’s very frustrating,” Fowler said. “Everyone who has really played, especially at some kind of high level, fully understands that golf has ups and downs. You take advantage of the moments when you are playing well and overcome them because you know that it will not always be like that, there are moments when it will fall and you will have to fight to overcome it. “
Do you remember 2014? Fowler finished in the top five in the top four that year. He has eight top-five finishes in the majors, 11 top-10 finishes in the 43 he’s played.
The annoying narrative that used to be attached to Fowler’s career, like a pair of sharp pebbles lodged in the heels of his golf spikes, was about his inability to win a major championship in all these tight-knit moments.
“The best player who has never won a major.” That used to be his label.
Fowler wishes he had those problems right now.