The Rickie Fowler that has showed up to the golf course since last fall to now leading into the PGA Championship at Oak Hill next week is the one fans became accustomed to seeing since he turned pro. Long drives, sharp irons and solid putting has been the name of Fowler’s game, and he could not happier to get back to that point on the golf course.
It is especially rewarding for him to see where he has been finishing in tournaments lately after the rough stretch in years prior that he had to battle through.
“It’s been a lot more fun obviously,” Fowler told Fox News Digital while promoting Level Select OTC’s plant-based pain relief products, “but I think the biggest thing is really being able to build some momentum and confidence.
Fowler was as low as No. 185 in world golf rankings, but he just cracked the top 50 once again for the first time since 2020 after finishing tied-14th at the Wells Fargo Championship. The 34-year-old now as Oak Hill and the PGA Championship, his first major since last year after not qualifying for The Masters in April.
It is a course he played well at back in 2013, but a new renovation makes things a bit more interesting for he and the rest of the field that will play 72 holes starting next Thursday.
“Not a lot of people have seen it since the renovation, including myself. So I’m looking forward of getting up there and planning to play 18 on Sunday and get ready for the week. But it’s a big golf course. You have to drive the ball well. That’s what I’m putting a lot of emphasis on the next few days and getting ready in the next week. If you don’t drive it well, it will be a short week, and you won’t be able to really show off the rest of the game. So first and foremost, need to make sure we’re driving it well going into the week.”
Fowler ranks 37th on the PGA Tour right now in driving distance at 306.6 yards per tee shot, which is up five spots since the Wells Fargo. However, his driving accuracy ranks 112th on Tour, which is something he will look to correct especially this week.
However, while he is focused on how to defeat Oak Hill’s tough fairways and greens, Fowler also noted how he is getting back to just playing golf. What he means is not overthinking every swing, chip and putt when he is out there like he was previously.
That is thanks to reuniting with his swing coach, Butch Harmon, once again.
“Really the main thing is just get back to playing golf and not playing too much golf swing,” Fowler said when asked what they have been working on the most since his resurgence. “Still working on things I knew I needed to do, and Butch knew I needed to do as well and getting into some better positions. But at the end of the day, keeping the mind pretty free of swing thoughts other than maybe one or two key things to focus on. Exaggerating quite a bit in practice so that I don’t have to think about it too much while I play, and that’s been one of the biggest things. Being able to go out and play golf and hit shots and not be thinking too much about the golf swing.”
On the technical side of the swing, Fowler said that “getting the left arm on a steeper plane” was paramount when Harmon was working with him again. Those that know Fowler’s swing know his very shallow backswing that seems to be a thing of the past now. He’s been noticeably steeper with his backswing, and it is paying dividends on the course.
“Just giving myself more room and having the swing work more efficiently. That was early on a lot more exaggeration than I have to do nowadays. That was probably the biggest thing, getting myself in a little better position at the top of the swing so I can go ahead and go play golf from there.”
The confidence and swing are there, as Fowler is 25th in FedEx Cup points and has four Top 10 finishes in the 2022-23 season. However, Fowler has not won since the 2019 Phoenix Open, something Harmon previously said he believes will change this year.
Can it happen at Oak Hill, which would be Fowler’s first ever major championship?
“I think the biggest thing is if I do drive it, say average for myself or definitely better than that, I’ll have a great chance to win there. I wouldn’t say we’ve had anywhere near my best at any of the events this year and to see the finishes that I’m able to kinda salvage with that, that shows a lot about the game and like I said, driving the ball will be key. If I can accomplish that, I know I can give myself a chance to win up there.”
He is looking ahead also, mentioning that the PGA Championship starts a long stretch where he is playing eight of the 10 events in the coming weeks. The U.S. Open and The Open Championship are on that list, as he wants to make the Ryder Cup team once more.
“With the state of my game and where I’m at, I’m excited and know we can go make a run, have a lot of fun in those 10 weeks and put ourselves in really good position for FedEx Cup, ultimately try to move up and be in position to make the Ryder Cup team. So, yeah, it’s a big stretch ahead but starting off to be a fun summer,” he said.
Fun. It is what golf is all about, but it was something Fowler was not always feeling the last couple of years.
That seems to be behind him, and it’s coming at the best time of the season.
HOW FOWLER RECOVERS
Level Select OTC is plant-based pain relief, and Fowler has been using their products for quite some time to make sure that he feels 100% on and off the golf course.
“It’s been great for us on the recovery side of things. Love being able to use the cream and the roll-on. Being with them for a handful of years now, I used a lot of the CBD cream. Now getting the same benefits and effects from the OTC, and like I said, being able to use the cream is my favorite. Most of the time, it’s my trainers being able to incorporate that into our main therapy, whether it’s low back or legs depending on what I feel like I need. And then for personal use so I’m not touching something whether it’s before going to play or something like that, that’s where the roll-on comes in handy.”