'Rickie Moves The Needle' - Why Fowler's Resurgence Is A Boost For The PGA Tour

Rickie Fowler says he's close to getting back to his best which would be great news for the PGA Tour

20 Things You Didn’t Know About Rickie Fowler
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The signs are looking good for Rickie Fowler finally returning to the top of his game, and a successful Rickie Fowler would be a huge boost for the PGA Tour as one of the most popular players on the circuit.

Fowler is back at the Players Championship, the scene of his greatest victory in 2015 when he produced one of the best finishes we’ve seen at TPC Sawgrass to eventually claim the title in a playoff.

The 34-year-old was five shots back with six holes to play but totally destroyed that fearsome finish at Sawgrass, going eagle-birdie-birdie to force a play-off, before beating Kevin Kisner and Sergio Garcia to lift the Players Championship trophy.

Reaching as high as fourth in the world, the last of Fowler’s five PGA Tour wins came at the 2019 Waste Management Phoenix Open, and he’s endured some lean times in recent years, but he feels he’s close to getting that magic back.

“Oh, very close,” Fowler said recently. “How close I knew was being back to playing some better golf, it’s all a very fine line. I’ve got to drive it better than I have been, but it’s nice to see a lot of things improving and getting better. It’s kind of working from the green back.”

From finishing in the top five of every Major in 2014, Fowler failed to even qualify for three of them last year, but after three top 10s in his last nine and top 20 finishes in the Farmers Insurance Open, Phoenix Open and Genesis Invitational, he’s starting to appear regularly on leaderboards at big events.

And a good Rickie Fowler is great news for the PGA Tour, as Gary Woodland explains: “Rickie moves the needle.

“Obviously, he hasn’t had his best stuff the last couple years, but Rickie still gets crowds because he just has good energy around him. He’s always a positive guy and he makes time for the fans, man. He does things the right way. 

“People love him. They’re drawn to him. The way he’s playing lately, getting back to those Ryder Cups, Presidents Cups and contending in major championships, I don’t think it’s too far away.”

Good friend Justin Thomas agrees that it would be great for Fowler, for the PGA Tour, and for golf if one of the most popular players on the circuit could get back to challenging, and even winning, in big tournaments again.

“It's clearly trending that way. He's playing some really good golf, really solid consistent golf,” said Thomas ahead of the Players Championship. 

“I can just tell from playing practice rounds with him or playing with him at home, he's just, he's a different person. He's got a lot more swagger, a lot more confidence. His expectations are different.

Rickie Fowler holding the Waste Management Phoenix Open trophy

Fowler's last win was the 2019 Phoenix Open

(Image credit: Getty Images)

“It's funny just what a couple tournaments or maybe one particular shot or week here and there will do. I think yeah he's definitely in that group of people that it's good for the game of golf when he's playing well.

“I mean, he gives more than anybody, I would say. He's more relatable. He gives more time, whether it's signing or having fan experiences. He's always been very active on social media, definitely more so pre-family. That's a reason why he's one of the most loved out here.”

Given the battle for the hearts and minds of golf fans around the globe right now, having Fowler firing on all cylinders and back in the limelight would be great news for the PGA Tour as they continue to try and fend off the advances of LIV Golf.

Paul Higham

Paul Higham is a sports journalist with over 20 years of experience in covering most major sporting events for both Sky Sports and BBC Sport. He is currently freelance and covers the golf majors on the BBC Sport website.  Highlights over the years include covering that epic Monday finish in the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor and watching Rory McIlroy produce one of the most dominant Major wins at the 2011 US Open at Congressional. He also writes betting previews and still feels strangely proud of backing Danny Willett when he won the Masters in 2016 - Willett also praised his putting stroke during a media event before the Open at Hoylake. Favourite interviews he's conducted have been with McIlroy, Paul McGinley, Thomas Bjorn, Rickie Fowler and the enigma that is Victor Dubuisson. A big fan of watching any golf from any tour, sadly he spends more time writing about golf than playing these days with two young children, and as a big fair weather golfer claims playing in shorts is worth at least five shots. Being from Liverpool he loves the likes of Hoylake, Birkdale and the stretch of tracks along England's Golf Coast, but would say his favourite courses played are Kingsbarns and Portrush.