Why can’t Rickie Fowler seal the deal at a major championship?

Jun 4, 2017; Dublin, OH, USA; Rickie Fowler approaches the fourteenth green during the final round of The Memorial Tournament golf tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 4, 2017; Dublin, OH, USA; Rickie Fowler approaches the fourteenth green during the final round of The Memorial Tournament golf tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports /

Rickie Fowler got off to a hot start at the U.S. Open but once again came up short in a major championship.

Rickie Fowler made it look easy during the first round of last week’s U.S. Open, firing an opening- round 7-under par 65. But Fowler just couldn’t get anything going over the weekend with two up-and-down days that knocked him out of contention and finished tied for fifth.

To put it simply, Rickie Fowler did what he has done on numerous occasions at the major championships. Not far off from the lead, he stumbled and went on to shoot an even-par 72. On a day where the wind was blowing hard and scoring was difficult, Fowler had three bogeys on his scorecard and did at the U.S. Open what he did at this year’s Masters.

Fowler was one stroke off the lead heading into the final round at Augusta and went on to shoot a 76 on Sunday to squander another opportunity to win his first major. Fowler has come close to winning the majors but just can’t seem to close out on Sunday.

When New York Times golf reporter Bill Pennington asked Fowler to reflect on his round, he said, “Yeah, no, it was tough out there.”

Fowler has come close to winning majors but has fallen down in the leaderboard on the weekend.

Major Championship Finishes

Fowler was in solid form in 2014 and had top-five finishes in all four majors that season. At the 2014 Masters, he finished the tournament with a final-round 73 after posting scores of 71, 75 and 67 in the first three rounds and finished tied for fifth.

He tied for second at the 2014 U.S. Open despite struggling with his putter a bit during the tournament, but again, he stumbled in the final round, shooting 72 after posting a 67 the day before. Fowler’s struggles on the green during that final round kept him from winning his first title.

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He played well at The Open Championship that season, again recording T-2 finish, shooting a final-round 67 to do so. Nothing during that tournament looked like it prevented Fowler from winning. He had solid shots off the tee, hit his irons well and his short game was on point, but yet again, he just didn’t have quite enough to seal the deal.

When asked after the tournament what is was like to play in the majors, Fowler told ESPN’s Ian O’Connor, “It doesn’t feel like a big stage. It feels like I should be here.”

In the fourth and final major that season, he finished tied for third at the PGA Championship. Again, nothing about Fowler’s game seemed off over the 72-hole span at Valhalla but he was simply outplayed by Rory McIlroy.

Fowler started the 2015 major championship season with a solid T-12 at The Masters but then missed the cut at the U.S. Open and tied for 30th at The Open Championship, the same position he would find himself at the conclusion of the PGA Championship.

2016 seemed to bring the same storyline. He had a good year overall but just didn’t show up for the majors. Fowler missed the cut at the Masters and U.S. Open, struggling off the tee and really didn’t have a good sense of direction with his iron play. The one positive aspect during those two tournaments would be his short game. His chipping and bunker play was good, but again, his irons and driver held him back. He was never in contention at either The Open Championship or the PGA, finishing with a T-46 and a T-33, respectively.

Rickie Fowler has played some of the best golf of his young career in 2017 with five top-five finishes, including a win at The Honda Classic but much like it was with Phil Mickelson years ago, he just hasn’t been able to snag that major championship. But like Mickelson, who eventually broke through and now owns five major titles, the pieces are all there. Fowler can only hope he can put them all together for four straight days at a major championship. He’ll take his next shot beginning July 20 at The Open Championship from Royal Birkdale.

Next: Top 10 clutch shots in U.S. Open history

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