Rickie Fowler entered the 2016 campaign entrenched as one of golf's "Big 4" stars. He shed the infamous "overrated" label with a victory at the Players Championship, with wins at the Scottish Open and Deutsche Bank Championship establishing his footing as one of the sport's marquee figures.
However, after grabbing a title in Abu Dhabi and finishing second at Phoenix this spring, the 27-year-old's game has taken some bumps. Fowler has missed the weekend at the Masters, Players Championship, Memorial and last week's U.S. Open. For context, he missed four cuts all of last season.
Yet, heading into the Quicken Loans National at Congressional Country Club, Fowler remains confident.
"All of it is just fundamentals, from setup and getting the ball just to start on the line that we're actually looking and having the flight that we want," Fowler told the AP on Tuesday. "One of the main things was my body wasn't rotating or continuing to rotate through the ball. But also some of that was caused by not being in the proper position at the top. Cleaned a few things up."
Fowler remains inside the FedEx Cup top-25 rankings, and does have six top-10 finishes on tour this season. Conversely, Fowler knows, when you reach this stage of fame, expectations change. But, he says, his game is not that far off.
"I'm definitely not concerned," he stated. "It's a fine line, as everyone knows, out here between making a cut and having a chance to be in contention on Sunday to packing your bags and going home early."
Perhaps playing with friends will help his cause: Fowler's Thursday and Friday pairings feature Justin Thomas and Smylie Kaufman.
"It's going to be fun playing with some of our best buds," he said. "I definitely think pairings where you're paired with buddies and you get to go out and feed off each other, it can definitely make a difference."