Rickie Fowler revealed this week what most people had speculated for some time now: that he will turn pro this fall after his likely participation in the Walker Cup, rather than return to Oklahoma State for his junior season. The 20-year-old from Murietta, Calif., who is in the midst of playing at the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship, has made the cut in two of five PGA Tour events he's competed in as an amateur, including the 2008 U.S. Open.
What will be interesting now for Fowler is the dilemma he might face either later this week at the Jimmie Austin GC in Norman, Okla., or next month should he succeed at the APL (he finished second to medalist Nick Taylor during stroke-play qualifying that wrapped up yesterday) or the U.S. Amateur Championship at Southern Hills in Tulsa. If Fowler should win the APL and/or was a finalist at the Amateur, he would be earn a invitation to play in the 2010 Masters … provided he is still an amateur.
So, would Fowler put his pro career on hold (and presumably return to OSU for one more year) if those carrots were dangled in front of him?
It's the same question Colt Knost faced two years ago after winning both the APL and U.S. Amateur. He had already stated he would turn pro after the Walker Cup and ultimately turned down the Masters to stick to his original plan (he also had exhausted his college eligibility so he didn't have a comfortable fall back of places to play should he have remained an amateur).
Having not asked Fowler the question directly, I can only speculate on what he might do. That said, my gut says that while the invitations would be tempting he would stick with his pro plans. If he was playing well enough to win either the APL or Amateur, he would likely feel like his game was in good enough form to get to the final stage of PGA Tour Q school and earn a card.