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Rickie Fowler’s Popularity



Welcome to week two of a new feature on our blog entitled “shootout.” In week one I debated the merits of the modern-day PG and what that means for CJ Guerrero and OSU with Kevin DeShazo. He did such a great job and I got so many hundreds of emails clamoring for more of his work I invited him back for another round two, here we go:

Last week Stephanie Wei of “Wei Under Par” noted that Rickie Fowler is the third biggest draw on the PGA Tour (behind Tiger and Phil) as if it were a foregone conclusion. Do you agree?

Kevin: Look, I’ve got as big of a man-crush on Rickie Fowler as anybody. It’s a bit humiliating, really. But there is no way that he’s the number 3 draw. My initial response was “get some more wins/top 3s and we can talk.” I lump wins in with top 3s, knowing that a) he hasn’t won yet (which seems crazy) and b) top 3s are a solid indicator of success.

He’s missed the cut in 3 of his last 8 tournaments. He’s played in 40 tournaments in the last 2 years and missed the cut 11 times. Granted, John Daly makes 1 cut per year and people flock to him, but that’s beside the point. Fowler is going to be big time. He’s flashy, he’s young, and he’s good. Really, really good. But he’s not a top draw, yet.

I agree with your tweet that, other than Tiger and Phil, you have to put DJ, Couples, Rory and Bubba ahead of Fowler. I might add Daly to that list as well. Still. Maybe it’s the fact that we were in Oklahoma, but the crowds that followed him the last time he was at Southern Hills were just as big as the crowds following Tiger and Phil.

I understand that Wei wants to be known as something other than “the other Wei”*, but just say that Rickie Fowler hits drives off the San Diego Pier naked. At least that might actually be true.

*side note, this is a joke. I’m sure that Wei does good work. I just don’t read her stuff.

Kyle: Kind of like you’ll always be “the other KD”?

Wei’s stuff is good (better than ours) so take it easy on her. Just because she writes posts about the ubiquity of Luke Donald’s trousers selections that get more traffic than both of our blogs combined have received in the aggregate doesn’t mean you get to roll her.

I’m oscillating on my prior comments that Fowler isn’t the third biggest draw in golf. I confused myself with the difference between being the third biggest draw and the third best/most outstanding player.

I think the real question here is “if all the PGA tournament directors got together to have a fantasy draft of players coming to their tournaments, who would go third?” Obviously Tiger and Phil are off the board faster than you can say “I can’t believe they let Fuzzy Zoeller smoke heaters on the fairways at Augusta!” But who goes next?

I actually do think it would be Fowler which I know contradicts everything I’ve tweeted/said/emailed/texted/thought up to this point. Here’s why:

Kids these days, devoted as they are to their gadgets and brands and bright colors and individualistic style are in love with Rickie Fowler. They’re enamored with his flat-billed hat (what would they think about Payne Stewart?), entranced by his colorful collection of hip Puma clothing, and and foaming at the mouth to live out his “I ride jet skis, race motocross, go fishing, and play myself in video games” lifestyle. And if you can sink your hook into that generation, you’ll have them forever (or as long as Fowler can swing an 8-iron).

While avid golf fans like you and me might be more drawn to Watson, Couples, Johnson, McIlroy, and Choi (?), tournament directors don’t care about avid golf fans – we’re going to watch regardless of whether you have Charles Howell III or Charles Barkley running around out there. And since the older generation was killed off the first time Tiger slung his Nike swoosh around Augusta (I bet you didn’t think I was going to say “slung his Nike swoosh” did you?), what’s left are the kids. To which Rickie can mostly relate because he still is one.

I’m on board with Wei, and please spare me the nude Fowler dropping bombs off the San Diego Pier references…where do you come up with this stuff?

I’ll definitely always be the other KD. And don’t worry about my mind. That’s a place neither of us want to go.

I don’t know how to argue with somebody that contradicts himself. Either you voted to fund the war or you didn’t, John Kerry! Make up your mind! I’m so confused. Although I guess it helps an argument if we’re on opposite sides.

I see what you’re saying, but I still don’t think I agree with it. I would have to put Rory ahead of him – maybe even more so after his implosion at Augusta (ps – I still hate that you were there). Rory is young, brash, Irish, and feels the same way about Jagermeister as I feel about chocolate chip cookies and milk. That, and he uses words like “fancy” while trash-talking Tiger Woods. (How do you have a comeback for “We fancy our chances against him?” That’s right. You don’t.)

Rickie isn’t going to trash-talk anybody. It’s not his style. And I love that about him. But we like flashy. We like feisty. And golfers typically aren’t feisty. At least golfers that are good enough to back it up (yes, I’m talking to you Ian Poulter). So when a golfer is a) really, really good b) not afraid to talk some trash c) maybe a bit crazy and d) really, really ugly – I think that’s somebody people want to watch.

In the next 3-5 years, I think Rickie will be top 2 on this list (assuming he continues to get better and Tiger doesn’t). Long-term I think we’re talking about Rory/Rickie like we’ve talked about Tiger/Phil-Ernie-Retief-Furyk-Vijay.

I just don’t think we’re there yet.

Kyle: In my defense this post was written after I actually thought about a response as opposed to just running my mouth (thumbs) on Twitter.

And stop lobbbing non-sequiturs at me. I don’t care about Rory’s ability to drink you under the table, I care about his ability to get your wife to watch golf. And I don’t think its as high as Rickie’s.

Be it the flowing mane, the orange on Sundays, the sheepish good looks, whatever, my wife and those aforementioned kids are interested in Fowler – two demographics Tiger lost and Phil never had.

Fowler’s going to win tournaments, lots of them, and when he does you’re going to be happy you bought low on his stock because its going to be paying dividends for years to come.

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