Rickie Fowler’s Drought Over; Victory Comes in Detroit

Rickie Fowler, 2023 Rocket Mortgage Classic,(Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images)
Rickie Fowler, 2023 Rocket Mortgage Classic,(Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images) /

When you’re a winner and you haven’t won in four years, it eats at you, like it did Rickie Fowler. Those days are over, at least for now.

Fowler, hitter of clutch shots, the guy who won The Players with either a gutsy or crazy shot to the 17th hole in a playoff, did it again when he needed to at Rocket Mortgage.

With a thunderstorm approaching and two competitors he had to beat, Fowler stuffed a 7-iron from almost 190 yards, landing it 12-feet from the flag on the 18th green in the first hole of a playoff. He looked calm as he rolled in the putt while those around him went nuts. Really nuts. It was his sixth PGA Tour victory, his first as a husband and father.

“I would have much preferred to win it just in regulation and convert some of the ones or opportunities I had on the back nine,” he said after his victory.

"While Harmon has the extra sensory perception when it comes to golf swings, Fowler was the one hitting the ball."

Fowler’s four-year battle to relocate the victory circle started sometime after Butch Harmon decided he wasn’t going to travel any more.  Harmon, long-time golf coach, and guru, is well-known for making players better. He has the eye and knows what to say to each person he coaches.

For Fowler, the cutback in Harmon’s travel meant no more sessions at tournaments. He and everybody else would have to go to Las Vegas to see Harmon. Or the alternate was to do what Brooks Koepka has done and work with Butch’s son, Claude III.

Fowler also said he made the coaching change because he wasn’t getting the same results.  That could be about the time that Harmon asked him if he wanted to win tournaments or be a Kardashian because Fowler was, it seemed, in every other TV commercial during golf.

It was Harmon’s way of saying you’re not spending enough time on your game. You’re always doing TV spots or something besides practicing.

The upshot was that Fowler began working with another coach. However, the change did not provide Fowler with better results.

Rickie Fowler steadily got worse.

Finally, last fall,  he called Harmon. And once again, Harmon worked his magic with Fowler, even predicting last February, according to Golfweek, that Rickie Fowler would win this year.

Fowler heard that and quipped, “Did he say which week?”

Soon Fowler began having top 20s, top 15s, and top 10s.

Then he was oh so tantalizingly close at the U.S. Open, leading or tied for the lead after each of the first three rounds.  But, in the final round, he got a case of the fairway misses off the tee.  That made it easier for Wyndham Clark to emerge as the winner, not that coming out on top at a U.S. Open is easy.

A week later, Fowler shot a 60, which coulda-shoulda been a 59, at Travelers. He was, as they say, really trending.

It was apparent to anybody who knows golf and golfers that Rickie Fowler was about to have that comeback breakthrough.  It looked like his was going to be soon.  For it to finally happen in Detroit, where one of his long-time sponsors, Rocket Mortgage, is the title sponsor of the PGA Tour event, it couldn’t have been a better place.

Fowler was helped by the gallery, he said.

“It’s amazing to have the following that I’ve had and then the people that have always been in my corner and pulled for me and supported me,” Fowler said after winning.

But he was also helped by the skill of Harmon.

"“I think over the last 10 months or so I think I’ve seen Butch four times,” Fowler said. “So, it’s more just the communication and talking and going back and forth and him looking at videos or what he sees on TV or stuff he can see on course from, like I said, TV or on the Tour app or whatever it may be.”"

Yes, Butch Harmon is that good.

"“I think Butch is a very — he’s the best golf coach out there,” Fowler said. “He does a great job with players, taking what they have and ultimately, I think, making them the best that they can be with who they are.”"

According to Rickie Fowler, part of the secret sauce is that Harmon sees ways to improve what players do well and sees ways to improve a player’s weaknesses. Of course, what makes Butch Harmon special is that he can see a golf swing, really see it. It’s like golf super-vision. Harmon can see and identify parts of a swing that aren’t letting a golfer do what he could potentially do.

Whether it’s Phil Mickelson or Dustin Johnson or Rickie Fowler. None of them play the same way or have the same body type or even swing from the same side of the ball. It is an extraordinary talent.

However, while Harmon has the extra sensory perception when it comes to golf swings, Fowler was the one hitting the ball.  Getting a victory this season was the main goal on his list of to-dos for the year.  And he admitted that he still has some things that aren’t accomplished.

Next. Rickie Wins Rocket Mortgage; Golf World Elated. dark

The next two goals are to make it to the Tour Championship and to be a member of the Ryder Cup team.  After his victory at Rocket Mortgage, his chances to achieve both are certainly improving.