Rickie Fowler lives up to Best Not to Win label

Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /

Rickie Fowler, who jumped out in front fast at the 117th U.S. Open, is playing golf with a lot of confidence these days. Here’s why.

In the first round of the U.S. Open a least, Rickie Fowler lived up to his new tag as one of the “Best Players to Have Not Won A Major.”

“I take it as a compliment,” Fowler said during a post round media interview where he looked composed, calm and confident after shooting a first round 65.  “There are a lot of really good players out here that haven’t won a major.  So, it would be nice to get rid of that at some point.”

Playing a relatively untested golf course, Fowler’s card was clean, posting seven birdies and the rest pars.  It was remarkable consistency. It also ties the lowest first-round score in relation to par at a U.S. Open, according to the USGA officials.

His best shot, he felt, was on No. 4 where he stuck a 2-iron off the tee, even though the wind was hurting more than it had during practice rounds. Here’s how Fowler saw the shot:

"We had 195 (to the) hole with the wind off the left, and just hit a nice choke-down, cut 5-iron. I think we missed our number by two yards, which from that distance with 5-iron back in off the left and trying to cut it, pretty spot on."

“You don’t get many rounds at the U.S. Open that are stress free,” continued reflecting on his round. “Just did a good job, knew I needed to drive it well, and from here just able to manage hitting and continuing to swing well.”

Fowler’s Playing Stats

In terms of what he felt was his biggest improvement recently, he said that in that past he was not a very good bunker player.

"Now I feel like I have a lot of confidence, and stats show I’m one of the best. That’s definitely been something that’s been nice to have on days where you’re not exactly on and just understanding and freeing yourself up because you now if you might miss something, okay, I’ll just get it up-and-down."

More from US Open

His driving stats are also up, he explained.  In a U.S. Open, there is always a premium on hitting fairways.

The change to a shorter driver shaft of 43 ½ inches instead of his previous of 44 ½ was made over a year ago.

“I feel like it’s just tightened up the dispersion, tightened up where the ball hits on the face,” he explained.

He did play to the fans on Thursday with a Green Bay Packer color, green and gold, golf bag.

“As many times as you can get local fans on your side, it helps,” he said about the bag choice.

His game, it seems, I right where he wants it.

"I have great control of the ball right now and distance control, which is big on a lot of little sections out here going into greens, especially with the wind picking up."

Fowler noted that the set-up of the course was good, and he felt the USGA would try to replicate that the rest of the week, changing tee boxes depending on wind conditions.

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Fowler’s 65 is the ninth first-round 65 in the history of the championship.  The lowest first rounds in U.S. Open history were 63s, shot by Jack Nicklaus and Tom Weiskopf at Baltusrol in 1980 on a par 70 course.