It’s last chance to dance time for Rickie Fowler. He came close to jumping inside the top 50 of the Official World Golf Ranking this week in order to qualify for the Masters.
A run to the quarterfinals at last week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play likely would have been enough to vault him past the threshold, but Fowler was unable to get out of group play.
Fowler began the tournament with a 2 & 1 upset of No. 2 seed Jon Rahm. Fowler fell 3 & 2 the next day to eventual group winner, Billy Horschel. Fowler bounced back the next day to defeat Keith Mitchell 1 Up to finish second in the group.
A T-17th finish overall kept Fowler at No. 59.
That’s not a bad spot to be considering he was on the brink of falling outside the top 200 last summer. The former Oklahoma State Cowboy has made six straight stroke play cuts and has not finished worse than T-54th over the span of his last nine events, which include no-cut events.
Fowler came close to his first win since 2019 when he posted T-2nd at the Zozo Championship. It would have been special for someone like him with Japanese heritage to win in Japan, but a win this week to make it to Augusta National would be an equally intriguing storyline.
Fowler’s making his fourth trip to the Valero Texas Open.
He took T-17th both in 2019 (68-68-73-69) and 2021 (76-68-69-70). Just an even-par 72 in round one a couple years ago could’ve vaulted him inside the top six.
"“It’s fairly generous off the tee until you get some wind blowing out here, which I know it can,” Fowler was transcribed by Tee Scripts in 2021, “but it’s very much a second-shot golf course.”"
Fowler is a good second-shot player. He’s 10th on the PGA Tour this season in strokes gained per round approaching-the-green (.827) and is 14th in total SG (1.283).
If he can get the short game dialed in this week, I could see this being a spot for him to end his win drought.