Rickie Fowler’s gesture on 18 told us something his golf game couldn’t

Rickie Fowler entered the final day of the competition tied with Wyndham Clark but ended up finishing the day five shots behind.

Getty Images.

In Los Angeles, after the final putt dropped and the U.S. Open concluded, the audience cheered loudly, but there was one person who remained completely still.

The most recent winner of a major golf tournament was greeted with enthusiastic approval as they made their way up the fairway, discreetly passing under the barriers and encircling the putting green. The crowd at the Los Angeles Country Club, who had received criticism throughout the week for their lack of enthusiasm, rallied around him when he removed his hands from his face, having briefly hidden his tears from the world under his hat. One cameraman approached him, followed by two others, as Wyndham Clark celebrated his victory about 30 feet away, just before the ball settled at the bottom of the hole and he started crying.

Clark turned to walk back towards the green and ran out to hug people, including his family and friends, a couple of minutes later. Rickie Fowler watched the celebration on the back of the green, with a smile on his face and his hat in his hand. He found Fowler, who welcomed him, that’s where he is.

Fowler pulled Clark in tight, yelling his congratulations. And then, just before they walked away, he leaned in for a quieter message.

“Your mother was with you. She would be extremely proud,” he stated.

Fowler strolled around a bend and ascended the stairs to the interview chamber after completing his card and embracing his spouse and picking up his child. Second-place finisher Rory McIlroy had recently departed from the platform and numerous journalists had discreetly left to chase after Clark and his victorious address. His daughter, appearing oblivious to the exact details of her father’s bogey on the 72nd hole but impressed by the audience, was also present.

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Did he face a packed house of reporters after his second and third rounds? Fowler had held the lead in the tournament after his third round. Fowler fired a U.S. Open-record 62 in his first round. Were most members of the media hoping to catch a glimpse of his playing partner? Now.

Fowler gazed at the almost vacant room, grinned mischievously, and delivered a line with a straight face.

“Where is everyone

He appeared genuine when expressing his words, and the indication of progress was evident in the week he portrayed Fowler’s closeness to triumph, which might have appeared to be excruciating. This particular tournament held the potential to be a game-changer! However, Fowler opted to characterize the week as a step forward. A final-round score of 75, five over par, might be interpreted as such. This tournament was his opportunity for victory!

This was an undeniably relentless display of positivity. When he ultimately didn’t get to tee it up and take away a “lot of good stuff” from the experience, he said there was a day’s break to wait to talk to a group of USGA interns. He even took a break from waiting all around on Thursday and prepped for his game, played practice rounds, and trekked to Brookline, which was the alternate he settled for after nearly making it through Open Qualifying, where he was ranked 145th in the world. He didn’t get to play, but he was also at the U.S. Open a year ago, so it’s easy to see why.

Some people wondered if it would be his last major final when he finished last year’s PGA Championship. But Fowler, who missed four out of the seven major championships, came in the midst of a stretch where he was first-alternate and had to wait. However, in 2014, he logged more than five top-10 finishes in majors and had an incredible feat with four top-five finishes; he made a name for himself early in his career for his play in major championships. His situation obviously didn’t seem positive from the outside.

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What did it signify, then, that he was in the ultimate pairing only one year later?

Fowler expressed, “I definitely think we’re heading in the right direction.” It has been a great 12 months, with the last 10 months indicating that “I’m still going forward and up, and we’re still heading in the right direction.”

That is an underst

Sunday was admittedly not the best day for Fowler. It was the fourth highest score he had, with a three-way tie for fifth place. He nearly lost three strokes on the field due to a lack of control with his irons. The day began with him dreaming of his first major championship, but suddenly he found himself four shots back on Clark’s back nine. He knew that the ship had sailed through midway.

By coming this near, there were numerous benefits for Fowler. For McIlroy, Sunday was either victory or failure. A constant presence in golf’s elite group, it solidifies the reality that he is once again. It garners him valuable Ryder Cup points and propels Fowler to No. 35 globally, but more notably, there’s the prize money of $738,934, of course. Finishing T5 in a major holds significantly more value than achieving nothing.

Fowler stated, “I had a great time,” recapping his competition. “I wanted to learn from all of your experiences. I didn’t want to be in the same position I am in today, but I am looking forward to a lot of good things coming this week.”

As he walked down the 16th hole, Fowler realized that his chances of winning had officially evaporated. After a blocked tee shot at No. 7, he did not three-putt at No. 5. And after crushing a chip-shot at No. 2, he did not show any hint of rage or frustration. I was never interested in seeing him in such a state. I walked with Fowler’s group for much of the day. I happened to be alongside him, as he swung his oversized water bottle and remained motionless and emotionless, his inscrutable demeanor save for a sip.

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wyndham clarks holds up a trophy

Tour Confidential: Wyndham Clark’s U.S. Open title, McIlroy’s (latest) close call, LACC’s debut

By: GOLF Editors

He spends much of his time in public, perhaps out of spite or because of the uncertain future, remaining cloaked in unknowability. From the top 100 in the world, he slipped when he watched the Ryder Cup 2021 at home or alongside an injured Tiger Woods in Jupiter, or when he watched the Masters 2021. There must have been moments. We intuitively knew that it couldn’t be that simple. Even when Fowler spoke about his struggles in the last couple of years, we’ve never seen this version of the man with his psyche imperiled or his core shaken, consistent as he is.

Perhaps you don’t realize how easy it is to see that the man beneath it all is very bright orange. It was hard to look directly at him because his head was adorned with a swatch of the same bright color. If we were to describe him using one word, casual golf fans might say he’s “orange.” However, that word has always been misleading, especially in the context where he is.

He went out of his way to make a moment with Clark, who has long looked up to Fowler. It was easier than ever for Fowler to hug the winner of the same group on this Sunday. Regardless of your own standing, showing up for your friends is fundamentally a decent thing to do. He has gotten some grief for that exact thing. There has always been an element of tragedy in celebrating Fowler’s major accomplishments. And for Koepka. Brooks. For Woods. Tiger. For Thomas Justin. His trademark move has become waiting on the final hole to greet his winning friends, Rickie. Then, back to that gesture on 18.

After he finished his media obligations, he headed to the same place he had gone to after the first round of the Autograph Zone. But when it came to earning a title at the U.S. Open, his game wasn’t strong enough. So, do you either sign autographs and do it genuinely, or don’t sign them at all? He was satisfied with his work, signing every kid until there was no one left.

Rickie Fowler never prioritized anything more than quality. It seems that his approach to the game of golf was to always be on the verge of being the best. He made sure to go out of his way to ensure the satisfaction of others. Rickie Fowler didn’t leave the Los Angeles Country Club fully content.

The writer (carefully) invites your feedback at dylan_d

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Dylan Dethier

Dylan Dethier

Golf.Com Editor.

Engaging in a round of golf in each state, he devoted a year residing from his vehicle as an 18-year-old and documented his encounter in the publication 18 in America. He specialized in English at Williams College and is an alumnus of the same. Dylan Dethier became a member of GOLF in 2017 following two years of enduring difficulties on the mini-tours and currently holds the position of a senior writer for GOLF Magazine/GOLF.Com. He originates from Williamstown, Mass.

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