Last year was seen as something of a breakthrough for Rickie Fowler, even though he didn’t win a tournament during the season.
That perceived inflation of his reputation, coming as a result of a top-five finish in each of the campaign’s four majors, led to fellow PGA Tour professionals rating Fowler, along with Ian Poulter, as the most overrated golfer in the game.
Perhaps they had a point. After all, you had to go back to 2012 to find Fowler’s only PGA Tour win, while he had managed only one runners-up spot before becoming the year’s bridesmaid last season.
Whether the anonymous barb delivered by Sports Illustrated stung Fowler or inspired him, he had the perfect response.
The Californian secured a thrilling Players Championship in a play-off after finishing the final six holes in six-under par at TPC Sawgrass, becoming the first man to ever end with birdie, eagle, birdie, birdie at the tournament in the process.
So, after answering his faceless critics in the most emphatic way possible there is a new question to ponder about Fowler: was last season’s season of nearly-but-not-quites the precursor to a year of victories.
Although the Masters has come and gone with Jordan Spieth taking over Fowler’s tag as the next bright young thing in American golf (Fowler finished T12), it’s perhaps time to back the 26-year-old to overturn his major-tournament near misses.
Having thrown the winning monkey from his back in indomitable style, there certainly isn’t a better time to back the outlandishly dressed American to start realising his potential.
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