After watching Rickie Fowler’s first 9 holes on Thursday in Minnesota I thought I was watching a flashback round of Fowler. Fowler was dropping putts from everywhere, zipping wedge shots to within 10 feet of the pin, and made the turn at 4 under 32.
Fowler’s Recent Struggles
Rickie has not won a tournament since the Waste Management Phoenix Open in February of 2019. Fowler did not qualify for the U.S. Open for the first time since 2010 and has missed 8 of 22 cuts since the start of the 2020 season.
Rickie has also dropped out of the top 50 in the official world golf rankings for the first time since 2011.
What Has Gone Wrong?
In 2017 Fowler ranked number 1 on tour in strokes gained putting. Fowler made his living around the greens being able to sink putts from anywhere. This season Fowler ranks 143rd in strokes gained putting and has -.167 strokes gained. Since 2012 Fowler has not had a single negative stroke gained category. This season Fowler has 2.
In fact, Fowler ranked 1st on tour in total strokes gained in 2017 along with 5 top 3 finishes, and 18 of 21 made cuts. Fowler’s struggles have been frustrating for him, but he has continued to stay positive.
He has been working with his new swing coach John Tillery and has started to get more comfortable with his new swing. Results have begun to show. He finished tied for 8th at the PGA Championship and followed that up with a tie for 11th at The Memorial. Rickie has shown flashes of his former self and state before this week’s event that he feels good about where his game is at.
Rickie’s First Round At The 3M
Fowler is playing just a week removed from the Open Championship. Although the week did not go as planned he is riding some momentum after firing a final round 5 under which ended up being tied for the best Sunday score.
Fowler opened his day in Minnesota with a great drive and wedge shot leaving himself a simple 6-foot birdie putt. Rickie continued his momentum throughout his first nine and ended up with 4 birdies. His putter looked extremely hot throughout the first round draining a 29 footer on hole 1.
He did not miss a single putt inside 10 feet and ended up with a bogey-free first round. He came out of the weather delay and finished up with 3 fairly boring pars, but after carding 7 birdies through 15 holes Fowler found himself alone in first place when he stepped off the green. There will be players chasing with soft conditions, but nonetheless a great opening round for Fowler.
Rickie Fowler 3M Open Winner | Predictions
I really do believe Fowler can put it all together and win this week. I have been following Fowler these past few weeks and I have seen great improvements in his ball striking. He missed just one green on Sunday at The Open and today his putter looked amazing. He also hit 13 fairways and 14 greens in regulation which is promising for Rickie’s ball striking.
Rickie just needs to continue to stay within himself. He has won before so he knows the feeling and knows what it takes. If Rickie can continue to hit greens in regulation I think he wins this tournament. I have seen Rickie Fowler with a hot putter and he is a real problem for the rest of the field if his putter continues to roll the way it did in round 1.