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Rocket Mortgage Classic

Rickie Fowler trending in the right direction heading toward season's final major

July 03, 2021

Rickie Fowler hits a tee shot in the third round of the Rocket Mortgage Classic

Nic Antaya

DETROIT — Rickie Fowler's golf game has been showing signs of life since he was granted a special invitation to the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island in May and used it to post his first top-10 finish in 16 months.

It hasn’t been a steady rise since then, but resuscitation is a good thing, and the patient continues to get healthy.

Fowler didn't exactly light up Detroit Golf Club on Saturday in the third round of the Rocket Mortgage Classic, but a four-under 68 kept him moving up the leader board. And when you have fallen outside the top 100 in the world, unfamiliar territory where he had resided a little over a month ago, well, up is the preferred destination.

Fowler, 32, whose wife Allison is expecting the couple’s first child in November—and is on hand this week in Detroit—has improved by one stroke his score each day since an opening 70 and completed 54 holes in nine-under 207.

“I would have liked to have made more of a move. It was a little bit of a slow start, played well in the middle and slow finish,” said Fowler, one of two Rocket Mortgage ambassadors in the field this week and (ahem) the only one willing to talk since the tournament began. “Just haven't been able to take advantage of the scoring conditions. All in all, I'm somewhat happy, but I definitely left a lot out there.”

Winless since the 2019 Waste Management Phoenix Open, Fowler climbed into a share of the lead briefly at 10 under until a bogey from the fairway at the par-4 16th. He then failed to birdie the par-5 17th to get closer to the top just as the leaders were teeing off. With scoring conditions ideal, the missed chances coming in were disappointing.

“I noticed,” he said of tying for the lead. “I knew where the guys were at. I saw that, but I knew that wasn't going to be where the top was come the end of the day, so I was still trying to press and keep moving forward. Once I kind of got things going in the middle of the round, I thought I might be able to get to 13, maybe 14 [under]. Unfortunately, the slow start and slow finish wasn't exactly what we had planned, but I think we've had little bits of that the last three days and tomorrow will be nice to kind of piece together a full 18 holes and not just a few of them.”

Fowler, who countered two bogeys with six birdies, hadn’t posted consecutive rounds in the 60s since April at the Valero Texas Open. He hadn’t begun a tournament with three straight sub-par rounds since the 2020 WGC-FedEx St. Jude Championship, where he ended up T-15 after a closing 73. And the last time he finished off a tournament with four rounds under par? Try last year at Detroit GC.

Following a missed cut at last week’s Travelers Championship after sitting out the U.S. Open, Fowler, ranked 95th in the world, said he has been concentrating on the basics of grip and setup and “tightening a few things up.” He’s still learning to trust those adjustments.
“I feel like I’ve done a good job of that,” he said.

"I’ve done everything well at some point this week,” he added. “Kept the scorecards fairly clean, a couple hiccups out there, but need to take advantage of some more scoring opportunities. But I like where things are at. Go get a good one tomorrow and looking forward to a few days at home before I go over to the British.”