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Why it’s still too early to judge Rickie Fowler for his lack of wins

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Bryson DeChambeau is basking in his victory at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, a win which saw him rise to fifth in the official world golf rankings. Amongst the praise DeChambeau has received, a post on social media last from Golf Channel’s Will Gray brought to attention the 25-year-old’s incredible run of form — while also highlighting Rickie Fowler’s lack of wins on the PGA Tour.

Once golf’s golden boy, Fowler has failed to claim a victory on the PGA Tour in over 18 months, and as the Californian approaches his 30th birthday, there is a sense that people are beginning to lose faith in Fowler.

Fowler ended his week in Vegas with an excellent round of eight-under par which saw him claim a T4 finish, and the American has now recorded five successive top-20 finishes on the PGA Tour dating back to early August. However, rightly or wrongly, Fowler has been labelled as a man who can’t close out tournaments. While previously there was a monkey on his back in regards to major championships, his winless streak stretching back to the 2017 Honda Classic has now brought to everyone’s attention his lack of overall victories.

The post from Gray took me back to a Cobra commercial that aired three years ago which involved Rickie Fowler and Greg Norman discussing their desire to “be the best.”

Just like Fowler, Norman is considered an underachiever in the game. You probably don’t need to be reminded about Norman’s major tally of two, regarded as a severely disappointing return for a man of his talent. But his total of 20 PGA Tour victories combined with his 331 weeks sitting atop the world golf rankings is enough to show that the Australian had an illustrious career.

Before Norman’s 30th birthday, the Australian had yet to capture a major championship. The current world number one, Justin Rose, has nine victories on the PGA Tour, but only broke through to win his first when he was 29, and his only major success so far came at the age of 32. While Phil Mickelson’s first of his five major triumphs also arrived at the age of 33.

For Fowler, he has plenty of time to change the narrative of his career. Amongst the new generation of prodigious young winners such as Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and now Bryson DeChambeau, the likes of Norman, Mickelson and Rose prove that there is still the opportunity for late bloomers to go down as golfing greats.

The growing negative judgement that has begun to wrap itself around Fowler may be the American’s biggest hurdle to overcome. It wasn’t that long ago that Dustin Johnson was being branded as a major championship choke artist by some, before he changed the narrative with a brilliant display at Oakmont to win his maiden major title.

Fowler has far less scar tissue to deal with than Johnson did, particularly at major championships. While it’s convenient for some to conclude that as he approaches his 30th year he has failed to live up to both the hype and promise that was displayed when he first broke onto the Tour, history suggests that the Californian still has plenty of time to create his legacy in the sport.

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Gianni is a freelance writer. He holds a Bachelor of Arts as well as a Diploma in Sports Journalism. He can be contacted at gmagliocco@outlook.com. Follow him on Twitter @giancarlomag

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. sam

    Nov 8, 2018 at 1:56 pm

    Fowler — nice person, treat people with respoect, loves his family, loved by the fans and media, rich, beautiful loving fiance. He is about as big a winner as you can have in my book.

  2. Gianni = Bum Blaster?

    Nov 7, 2018 at 6:00 am

    Or is he a que er with a fat girlfriend?

  3. Greg V

    Nov 6, 2018 at 8:18 am

    Gianni,

    I think that you are grasping at straws here. Greg Norman didn’t play against a field as deep with talent as Rickie faces week in and week out. Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Justin Thomas and yes, Bryson DeChambeau are some of the reasons that Rickie will have a tough time winning more than one major, if he wins that.

    • Don7936

      Nov 6, 2018 at 11:36 pm

      Lame article…Fowler is eminently more successful in his profession than the “writer” of this snarky article is.

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Podcasts

Mondays Off: Tipping Dos and Don’ts, Does Jordan Spieth really have the yips?

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Steve and Knudson talk about a PGA Tour pro allegedly tipping his caddie only $3,000 after winning a tournament. Steve gives Knudson a lesson on who he should tip and when during a visit to a private club. Finally, Steve then tells us why Jordan Spieth doesn’t have the yips and what you can do to help with the yips if you have them!

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

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Courses

Hidden Gem of the Day: George Dunne National in Oak Forest, Illinois

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These aren’t the traditional “top-100” golf courses in America, or the ultra-private golf clubs you can’t get onto. These are the hidden gems; they’re accessible to the public, they cost less than $50, but they’re unique, beautiful and fun to play in their own right. We recently asked our GolfWRX Members to help us find these “hidden gems.” We’re treating this as a bucket list of golf courses to play across the country, and the world. If you have a personal favorite hidden gem, submit it here!

Today’s Hidden Gem of the Day was submitted by GolfWRX member DeeBee30, who takes us to George Dunne National in Oak Forest, Illinois. The course is a part of the Illinois Forest Preserve golf system, and in DeeBee30’s description of the course, the challenge provided is underlined as just one of the highlights of the course.

“Really fun tree-lined parkland layout with some interesting holes that cover rolling terrain that you don’t find in many Chicago-area golf courses.  Coming in at 7262 yards and 75.4/142 from the tips, Dunne offers four sets of tees that will provide a good test for most golfers.  The course gets a lot of play, but it’s always in great condition.”

According to George Dunne National’s website, 18 holes during the week will cost in the region of $40, while the rate rises to $75 should you want to play on the weekend.

@ThomasRWitt1963

@GolfTfs

@Kurtis1908

Check out the full forum thread here, and submit your Hidden Gem.

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Opinion & Analysis

NCAA Transfer Portal: What the data says so far

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As reported, in September 2018 the NCAA made major changes to the rules by introducing new legislation which allowed players to transfer without a release and be signed up for a website which provided their information for all coaches. The idea was to make the process of transferring easier on the student athlete. three months into the process, we wanted to look at the numbers and see what, if anything we could learn from transfers so far…

When looking at these numbers, keep in mind that since September sixty-four (64) players in Division I and Division II have signed up for the portal and here are the transfers that I am aware of

  • Birgir Bjorn Magnusson from Bethany (NAIA) to Southern Illinois
  • Laken Hinton from Augusta State to Ohio State
  • Colin Bowles from Ohio State to Georgia Southern
  • Brandon Gillis from Wake Forrest to Rhode Island
  • Drew Powell from Brown University to Duke University
  • Jeff Doty from North Florida to Kansas

When looking at the transfers, keep in mind that Birgir at the time of the transfer was ranked No. 3 in NAIA golf with a stroke average of 72.09 and four top 10s in the fall. His WAGR has also significantly improve to a very solid current ranking of 473, which would put him among the top third of college players in the WAGR.

It is also important to remember that my data demonstrates that only about 6/64 player where immediately able to get deals to transfer. That means that 90 percent of players (58/64), got nothing. Not very good odds, but honestly not surprising since even with the portal, transferring is still going to be a major issue because of two reasons

  • Transfer Credits: most schools at best are going to take 2 years of credits, this means anyone past their sophomore year, who is unhappy, is likely going to have to do a full extra year of school to graduate. However, this is not to say that all schools will take all credits; it is more likely that only very generally 100 level classes will transfer.
  • Anchoring Heuristic: a single question survey of 10 coaches demonstrates that all 10 have at least some reservations about transfers; what’s wrong with this player? Why did it not work the first time? Why is the second time going to be any better?

In creating the portal, the NCAA has not dealt with the real issue; most young athletes have no idea what really to expect at the college level. The fact is that if you sign up to play golf at Auburn University, although you may get a scholarship, you have likely spent close to 100k on golf clubs, balls, lessons, memberships, trips and tournaments. Your reward? A grueling beat down of class responsibilities, tutoring and endless competition with the best golfers in the world. It’s hard and golfers who excel in college golf posses’ resilience, adaptability, coachability and grit.

There will be some golfers reading this article who are considering transferring, for those, I offer this advice: it’s not going to get any easier. Life is a curial, hard place and if you have any big aspirations for yourself, you will need to learn to be tough, fight through adversity and believe in yourself. Don’t let these questions stop you, instead let them motivate you and use your college coach, swing coach and family to figure out ways to become better.

With the NCAA reporting a transfer rate of approximately eight percent across all of college sport, it is likely that as player come closer to March, we will see a surge in players on the portal. The question is, what will happen to these players? My guess is, in the longer term we will see a lot more losers than winners.

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