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U.S. Open: Is this where Fowler breaks through?


June 14. 2018 12:40AM
Rickie Fowler follows through during Wednesday's practice round of the 118th U.S. Open golf tournament at Shinnecock Hills. (USA TODAY SPORTS)

You’d be confident, too, if you were having the week Rickie Fowler is having.

First off, he’s staying with investment banker Jimmy Dunne, and there’s a more than decent chance they’re not exactly lodging at some cheap motel. Second, he got engaged last Friday, on a pristine Long Island beach, according to his Instagram post, to Allison Stokke, a professional pole vaulter and Nike model. Justin Thomas took the photo. Tuesday, he played a casual round of golf with Tom Brady, and apparently, “Tom Brady can putt,” he said.

So yes, even without all his professional accolades, life is pretty good if you’re Rickie Fowler. And he really, really thinks it could get a whole lot better at the end of this U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills.

“We all know I’m good enough to win,” he said Wednesday, the day before the first round. “I know I’m good enough to win.”

Fowler, 29, a prodigy-turned-master, has had plenty of success. He’s come in second at the Masters, U.S. Open and Open Championship. But, he has never won a major.

This will be his 10th U.S. Open and it’s on a course he’s particularly fond of, and the thought is that this weekend is as good a time as any to break through. After all, it took Phil Mickelson 33 years to win a major, assuming, as most people do, that he was born with a putter in his tiny fist.

“Phil didn’t get his first for a while so there’s still hope,” he said. “I’m not too worried about it. I’m excited about some of these courses that we have coming up, especially this week. But in the coming years, we have some great major venues.”

The thing that distinguishes Fowler’s career is a slew of close calls. Whether it was losing to Patrick Reed by one stroke at Augusta this year, or tying for second with Sergio Garcia at the 2014 Open Championship, Fowler is no stranger to very good rounds of golf on very grand stages.

“I’ve been very close,” he said. “I feel like there’s a few you could look at and say, if it wasn’t for that one guy, we would have won. ... There’s some scores that I’ve shot that have been good enough to win majors, but we haven’t be able to get it done that specific week. (And) you know what? At the same time, I kind of look at it as far as, I’m good enough, and I’ve basically won a major. I won the Players (Championship) against, arguably, the best field we play all year (in 2015).

“We just gotta happen to get one done at the right time and have that week.”

If the last few days are any indication, Fowler is already having “that week.” This weekend, everyone finds out if it extends to a career-defining major.


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