For Rickie Fowler the Masters could be a breeze

Texan is not afraid of the winds at Augusta and is ready to challenge for a green jacket

Rickie Fowler has three top-fives in his last five outings, including a win in the Honda Classic. Photograph: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Rickie Fowler has three top-fives in his last five outings, including a win in the Honda Classic. Photograph: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

 

There is an inclination from players to analyse weather forecasts at tournaments for a good reason, mainly because it affects how the course plays. For this latest edition of the Masters tournament, the prediction for wind – especially during the first two rounds – has caught the eye of many. It brings an unpredictable element into the equation.

For Rickie Fowler, who grew up playing in the desert winds of his native Texas, there is no fear. If anything, he’s more wary of what could be perceived as a gentle breeze. 

As Fowler explained, “just because you’re down in the trees, there’s a lot of times that you don’t feel the wind. In a way, it can be easier when it is blowing up to a certain speed, because it’s more consistent and constant, coming out of that one direction. Sometimes, playing around here, when it’s a light breeze and moving around and gusts come from different areas, that’s when it can get tougher.” 

Long driving

The point was put to Fowler that, given the forecast for winds, it would possibly help to have a low ball flight. But Fowler wasn’t having any of it. In the modern game, so much depends on long driving. “A low ball flight in the wind can help,” admitted Fowler, before elaborating: “But when you’re playing this course soft, it is long from the tournament tees. You know, being able to carry the ball and have that length is going to be a bonus.” 

He added: “The biggest thing in the wind is just hitting the ball solid. I don’t think there’s as much put on how low the ball can be hit. You don’t want to hit it too high, but a solidly struck golf shot in the medium flight range is still fine.  That’s probably the biggest focus I’ll have, is just making sure that we’re hitting a lot of solid golf shots and being able to control the ball in the air with that.

“Now, at times, yeah, we’ll have to hit some low but with it potentially being windy and wet, I think you’re still going to be trying to push it out there off the tees to potentially get some shorter shots in.”

Fowler is one of those players without a Major title to his name yet who has arrived here with expectations and intent. His stats so far this season are eye-opening: first in scoring average (68.8), first in scrambling, first in sand saves and second in total driving. He has three top-fives in his last five outings, including a win in the Honda Classic. It all seems to be projecting in the right direction for him to challenge.

Dumb mistakes

“It’s been kind of a fun trend in the first couple months getting ready for being here this week,” said Fowler, who has a best finish of fifth (in 2014) in the Masters.

But he missed the cut here last year – “I just made some dumb mistakes that easily could have been avoided” – and admits his expectations in the Masters, indeed all of the Majors, haven’t materialised into what truly matters, a win.

Of comparing his career accomplishments with his expectations, Fowler responded: “So far, I would say under (accomplished). But I would look back and I definitely wouldn’t be disappointed about the career I’ve had. And especially with where I’m at right now, and where I feel like the game is going and where it can go.” Expectations, you see, remain high.

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