Connect with us


This is Rickie Fowler’s Open



ERIN, Wis. — While Hideki Matsuyama tried his hardest to burn Erin Hills to the ground with a 7-under 65 on Friday, playing partner Rickie Fowler just tried to hang on. Fowler started out hot but faded down the stretch as he attempted to extend his first-round lead. He didn’t, in fact he lost it, but he also didn’t play himself out of the tournament.

I wrote about Fowler and Erin Hills for CBS Sports on Friday which you can read here. Fowler trails Brooks Koepka, Paul Casey, Brian Harman and Tommy Fleetwood by one, but to me, with the leaderboard we have and most of the top 10 out of the way, this is Fowler’s U.S. Open to lose.

No, he’s not currently winning at the halfway point, but that can change in about 20 minutes on Saturday afternoon, and Fowler swatted away his “bad day” and remained in contention. That’s important at U.S. Opens.

“I hate just being in the situation where I’ve been in a good spot and maybe let it get away from me a little bit,” said Fowler. “Let some mistakes compound and turn a round that you kind of fight through it and end up being in a decent spot after the day. I’ve been in positions where there’s been a couple that have kind of gone the wrong way and you miss the cut. You look back, and I just grinded it out.

“I’m playing the weekend. I have a tee time on Saturday, so it just kind of you learn along the way to never really give up. You never know what one shot’s going to count for.”

Fowler’s issue at the Masters earlier this year where he also contended but went on to lose is that he was not hitting the ball all that well. In retrospect, it was a miracle that he was even in one of the final few groups on Sunday with the way he hit it.

That’s not the case this week. Fowler has hit 82 percent of fairways and 75 percent of greens. He’s No. 3 in the field in strokes gained tee to green. He is a great shaper of the golf ball and an underrated strategic golfer (both paramount at Erin). His issue on Friday was that he didn’t putt all that well (well, except for this 51-foot birdie).

Fowler lost a stroke and a half on the greens to the rest of the field. But no matter, Fowler is a closer of the strongest variety and has the most game of anybody in the top 15 (don’t @ me, Brooks Koepka and Hideki Matsuyama fans). He will win a major championship at some point, and I think it could come on Sunday evening in the heart of middle America.

Here’s how I put it on CBS Sports …

As Rickie strode home on No. 18 on Friday with a par finish, his short, quick gait was never out of tune with his blase face. Fowler’s name emitted from the rolling farmlands and spewed into the dusty air. Children chanted at him, and their parents smiled.

Fowler hasn’t let himself break character just yet because, remember, this was just battle No. 2. But the deck has been cleared of stars and Fowler has already fought maybe his toughest fight.

Yes, there will be trials, but his swing looks tight and he doesn’t have to run down anybody he’s incapable of running down. Fowler trails by the slimmest of margins going to the weekend with little standing in the way of him and his first grand prize.

The feeling in Erin, Wisconsin, is undeniable. This is Fowler’s Open. [CBS Sports]

Fowler tees off at 2:07 on Saturday with Jamie Lovemark. Enjoy the show.

Most Read