He has come close before—the 2018 Masters, for instance, where his final round charge fell one stroke short—but Rickie Fowler is known as one of the best never to have won a major.
“It’s a compliment, in a way,” says Fowler, who has five PGA tour wins to his credit. “If I don’t win a major, it’s not going to define me.”
The Murrieta, California, native who turned pro in 2009 enters the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links with no victories in 38 appearances at one of golf’s four signature events.
In preparation for another run at an elusive major title, Fowler put in 18 holes of practice on Sunday and played 9 with Monday morning with the world’s top ranked amateur, Viktor Hovland.
He explains that an event like the Open is a much bigger stage, but after playing so many majors—and finishing runner up in three of them—they don’t really feel any different than a regular tour date in terms of preparation and play.
The fact that Fowler has recorded just a few competitive rounds on the iconic course should not be a factor, he adds.
“It’s not necessarily a place the more you play it, the more you have an advantage,” Fowler points out. “It’s a straightforward course.”
He considered entering February’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am for an early look at Pebble Beach, but decided against it. The weather turned out to be challenging for much of the tournament, marking a clear difference between winter and late spring.
In the end, he says, “I didn’t think it was going to be beneficial.”
Fowler shares a couple of things with his Monday morning playing partner. Both have the world’s number one amateur ranking to their name. Hovland holds the title currently, Fowler kept it for 37 weeks in 2007-2008. And both are part of the Oklahoma State University golf program.
“Viktor’s going to be fine,” Fowler says of the reigning U.S. Amateur champion, a title Hovland won at Pebble Beach. “I expect him to play well here.”
Fowler took a moment to poke a little good-natured fun at Tiger Woods during a Monday afternoon press conference. “Tiger’s a little older now,” he says with a smile. “We make sure he’s aware of that, too.”
As for that unofficial title regarding the zero by his name when it comes to major titles, Fowler remains unfazed.
“Do I want to win a major? Yes,” he says. “When the time’s right, it’s gonna happen.”