LOS ANGELES — This time last year, Rickie Fowler was on the outside looking in at the U.S. Open.
Fowler was the first-alternate at the 2022 U.S. Open, waiting out all day on the driving range at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., just a in case a spot opened up. But one never did. And with that, his 10-year streak of playing in the U.S. Open was over.
“That was a long Thursday last year,” he recalled. “I got some good work in.”
But this year, Fowler quickly put the golf world back on notice after he started his run at the Los Angeles Country Club with a 62, setting the lowest score in the major’s history.
Despite the hot start and leading the pack through the third round, he fell short on Sunday, finishing T5 at the U.S. Open.
“I just didn’t have it today,” Fowler said after his final round. “Iron play was very below average and didn’t make anything. That’s a big thing in majors, especially on a Sunday.”
Fowler shot 5-over par on Sunday, notching seven bogeys. The former Oklahoma State Cowboy was shining earlier in the weekend, staying on top through the third round after going 2-under par on Friday and even on Saturday.
“I think I’ve done a lot better with my process leading up to shots and understanding there are negative thoughts or that there is trouble for missed shots out there, and just accepting I may not hit it perfect, but this is where I’m going to try and hit it and this is what I’m focusing on,” he said about his mindset after Saturday.
Fowler’s career hasn’t exactly been the same since he finished within the top five at all four major tournaments in 2014.
After finishing T2 in the U.S. Open in 2014, Fowler has only one other top five finish in the major. Once the struggles began, Fowler dipped as low as No. 185 in the Official World Golf Rankings this past September.
But he’s been on a bit of a run this season, finishing in the top 15 in seven of his last eight tournaments. His T5 showing this weekend is his highest finish in a major since 2021 when he finished T8 at the PGA Championship.
He’s now vaulted back into the top 50 in the world.
“You go through the ebbs and flows of your career, and as long as you keep working hard and keep the faith in yourself, which Rickie has, he’s climbed his way all the way back, and he’s been playing some really solid golf this year,” Scottie Scheffler said about Fowler’s recent success.
Fowler won’t have much time to dwell on how his weekend in Los Angeles went, since he’ll head to Connecticut on Monday morning to prepare for next weekend’s Travelers Championship.
And while T5 wasn’t the finish that he had in mind, it’s enough to show that he’s more than just hanging around. His play this weekend shows that he can still be the same talented player that took the golf world by storm nearly a decade ago.
“As much as it sucks to not be in the position I wanted to be after today, we’re just continuing to build and continuing to move forward,” he said Sunday. “Not the finish I wanted, but there’s a lot of really good things to take from this week, and we’re continuing to move forward.”