Fowler favours matchplay before Masters

Rickie Fowler and Phil Mickelson took on Dustin Johnson and Brandt Snedeker

AUGUSTA, GA: Rickie Fowler splashes out of a bunker during Masters practice on Tuesday (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Rickie Fowler and Phil Mickelson took on Dustin Johnson and Brandt Snedeker in a fourball match in preparation for the 2015 Masters

Rickie Fowler, whose worst finish in a 2014 major was a tie for fifth here at Augusta, showed a glimmer of what was to come last year in a Masters practice round.

He partnered Phil Mickelson in a better ball match against Dustin Johnson and Jason Dufner on the Tuesday prior to the 2014 Masters, scorched his way around Augusta National with nine birdies and an eagle and led his illustrious playing partner to a 2&1 victory. Prize money for that victory, by the way, remains ‘classified’.

Fowler played so well that day that Mickelson – his playing partner – tried to give him a miss-read on a putt.

Judging by what transpired in practice this Tuesday, perhaps Mickelson should concentrate more on his own putting. The Californian duo paired up again, this time again Johnson and Brandt Snedeker, but they came out on the wrong side of the result.

“Phil and I lost on the last hole,” admits Fowler, 26, although he was gracious enough not to mention that he and Mickelson lost when Mickelson, a three-time Masters champion, three-putted on the last green.

“It was a good match,” adds Fowler. “I didn't make as many birdies as last year, but we had a good time. We talk a lot of trash and it goes back and forth. It’s free game and there’s no holding back, but it’s all fun.

“With these matches it's a good way for us to kind of have a few shots that matter, whether it's a drive, approach, chip or a putt. It puts us under the gun on some shots, and that kind of simulates the pressure of a tournament round. It's also a little bit of a checklist to move forward and realise whether certain parts of the game might need a little more attention before the first round.

“Win or lose, it's a good tool to get ready for Thursday. I saw some things that I need to just tighten up a bit, and I know that’s the same for the others guys too.”

Fowler played in the Par 3 Contest yesterday with two more American Ryder Cup teammates, Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson, but his group for the first two rounds of the Masters proper is much more international, bringing in Australia’s Jason Day and Spain’s Sergio Garcia. The three tee off at 1:59 (U.S. Eastern time) as the final group of the day and also one of the most potent in terms of potential contenders for the Green Jacket.

“I got some good work in over the weekend and the past couple days here,” adds Fowler, “I'm really, really pleased with where my game is, it just hasn't really shown yet this year. I'm excited to be back into the heat of things again.”

Robin Barwick travelled to Augusta National with Mercedes-Benz. Mercedes-Benz is global sponsor of the 2015 Masters Tournament

Freelance Writer

Robin has worked for Golf Monthly for over a decade.