Fowler’s Breakthrough Win Comes at Just The Right Time

Rickie Fowler, 2023 Rocket Mortgage Classic,Syndication: Detroit Free Press
Rickie Fowler, 2023 Rocket Mortgage Classic,Syndication: Detroit Free Press /

When Rickie Fowler’s putt for birdie and his first win since 2019 dropped during Sunday’s playoff at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, he turned his head toward the sky, folded his hands over the club, and sighed. That deep exhale and the visible relief that left Fowler’s body well encapsulated those 1,610 days between wins.

Within that time period, Fowler has faced adversity and low moments, but not without demonstrating the mental and physical strides it takes to be a winner.

He’s also gotten married, witnessed the birth of his first child, changed his caddie and his swing coach, and established a mindset toward winning that does not treat it like the only option, but rather an added bonus to the hard work put in on and off the course.

An Earned, Breakthrough Win; Not a Surprise Win

As of Sunday’s win, Rickie Fowler has finished T17 or better in 10 of his last 11 starts and has 13 top-20 finishes in his last 15 starts on Tour. He’s been hot and trending upward long before his Rocket Mortgage Classic win. In 10 months, he’s gone from World No. 185 to No. 23- Sunday’s success did not happen overnight or by a stroke of luck.

He’s been staying true to his mentality of holding the concept of a win as a goal, but not the only measurement of success or testament to hard work.

Following his heartbreaker loss at the 2023 U.S. Open after co-leading through 54 holes, Fowler spoke on his continued progress and the belief he’d see success soon.

"“I definitely think we’re heading the right direction.”"

He also declared that after going through his last few years of challenges on the course, he is not afraid to fail.

Rickie Fowler has been the furthest thing from a failure this season and his fixation on the measurable progress he observed rather than a fixation on another final-round collapse was the healthy mindset needed to break through and earn his first win in over four years. It kept him able to tune out the chatter of fourth-round collapse trends and stay steady in Sunday’s final round to prove he can be clutch when it matters most.

The former Cowboy entered the final round one clear but only made three birdies through seven holes, after which he would go on to record par on the next 10. It kept him behind leaders Collin Morikawa, who was searching for his first win since the 2021 Open Championship, and Adam Hadwin.

The pressure all fell onto Fowler’s 18th hole; his chance to secure his spot in the playoff with Morikawa and Hadwin and get him one step closer to the win he’s steadily worked toward all season. His approach shot on 18 left him three feet from the pin and a birdie that set up the three-way playoff.

As the three were set to play 18 again in the playoff, all eyes were on Rickie Fowler. The pressure of the last several weeks had yet to reach this point. But he had been there before- his first two Tour wins both came from a playoff victory. And after the last few weeks, let alone the last few years, Fowler really had nothing to lose and everything (whether a win or added progress) to gain.

That’s why it was not a surprise to witness him sink his 11-foot putt for Birdie to seal the deal and put him back in the winner’s circle.

It was a long time coming for Rickie Fowler.

“I knew it was just a matter of time with how I’d been playing. I’ve had a couple tough weekends where I had a chance and you know, U.S. Open, didn’t get it done. At the end of the day, getting to hold [my daughter] hang with Maya and my wife, winning is great but there’s a lot more to life than that,” Fowler, with baby in tow, said to reporter Amanda Renner immediately following his win.

The challenges on a golf course can become mental hurdles, and the mental hurdles can manifest themselves as errors or struggles on the course if you let them. Fowler’s control of his mindset paid quick dividends and was a testament to the work done both on the course and within himself.

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Where this breakthrough win takes him next is something only time can tell, but his season has been nothing short of inspiring and a joy to watch come full circle.