MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Rickie FowlerAlthough he was the last man to qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs he is making the most of it and has a new caddie as well as a putter in his arsenal.
Fowler posted a 5-under 65 during the first round at TPC Southwinds FedEx St. Jude Championship. After the morning wave of players, he was tied for fifth. He would likely advance to the second leg next week at the BMW Championship at Wilmington Country Club, Delaware, if he can hold that position for the next 54 holes.
It was Fowler’s first competitive round after parting ways from Joe Skovron (a childhood friend who had been with him since 2009), and it was also his first competitive round. Ben Schomin, a Cobra-Puma representative, caddied for Bryson deChambeauLast year, is working alongside Fowler this week.
I felt great, Fowler said. It was more about not having Joe with us, obviously an incredible partnership over the years. But it was going to be more me taking ownership and putting more work on myself and more accountability. I still had plenty. [Skovrons]Voice and one-liners, and stuff in my head. He wasnt there but he was definitely there.
Fowler almost missed the FedEx Cup for a second season after missing the cut at the Wyndham Championship last week. Fowler returned home to Jupiter in Florida, where he played golf Sunday. The playoff field was determined during the final round at the Wyndham Champion in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Fowler said, There was nothing I could have done, so I went out and played golf.
Fowler was able to sneak in as the final qualifier, mainly because nine LIV Golf players were not eligible following the suspension of the PGA Tour.
Fowler (33), is a five-time winner of the PGA Tour. However, his last victory was at the 2019 WM Phoenix Open. Fowler is currently ranked 167th on the Official World Golf Ranking. He was 85th at end 2021. In 21 starts, he has only one top-10 finish — in October at the CJ Cup @ Summit — and he missed the cut nine times.
Fowlers almost three-year slide can be attributed to many factors. Fowler believes his recent struggles are mainly due to his putting. He used a Scotty Cameron putter for the first time Thursday. It was his fifth use in competition this season. He tried it Tuesday for the first time.
It would have been nice to hit some [balls]Fowler said that it was not the biggest problem, but that it could be a little closer. This has been one of the most important issues over the past year or two. Im not going to put anywhere near it. [as well as]What Im comfortable with or what I know I can do. This gives you momentum and confidence, and allows you to relax from the rest of your game. You dont have to hit it very close to make birdies.
Ive been driving it really good, so I think the last thing is seeing some putts go in. Thats going to allow the rest of my game to start cruising again.
Fowler ranks 179th this season in shots gained: putting (+.314) Fowler ranks 106th when he puts from 5 feet, 159th 6 feet, and 104th 7 feet.
[The ball]Fowler stated that it kind of moves all over the place. I would suggest that most of it is read-based. However, at that point you dont trust the reads and speeds a little off. So there are lots of variables in putting. It doesnt matter what speed or read you have if you dont start it online.
Fowler finally got the ball rolling Thursday. He made 55 putts. His par-5 16th par-5 eagle brought him to 5 under. He has a chance to make it past this weekends playoffs with his opening round.
Fowler stated that Obviously, I need to play well in order to just make it through next week. However, it would be great if we could do that and move forward. Its okay to let it all out there and see what happens. But I am happy with the beginning, especially when I dont make much.