Golf | Role models up close for Fowler

Oakmont – Rickie Fowler knows he is capable
of getting into the major championship mix and has what it takes to win a big
title after claiming last year’s Players Championship.

“Next step would be winning a
major,” American Fowler, 27, told reporters on Tuesday at Oakmont Country
Club, site of this week’s US Open.

Fowler finished in the top five at each of
the four major championships in 2014 and enjoyed his first multiple victory
season on the PGA Tour last year by also claiming victory in the Deutsche Bank
Championship in the FedExCup playoffs.

He will be playing his first two rounds at
Oakmont with role models for his quest – Masters champion Danny Willett of
England and Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy, winner of four majors.

Rather than be cowed, Fowler said he hoped
the grouping would help bring out his best and that McIlroy has been a frequent
practice partner.

“I’m really looking forward to playing
alongside Rory and Danny. Both of them playing well, Danny coming off the win
at the Masters, and Rory has been playing well for quite some time now,”
the American said.

“We get to spend some time together.
We practised a bit together back home in Jupiter (Florida). We played 18
(holes) this morning. We played nine yesterday. So we’ve seen a lot of each
other the past week and more to come.”

Fowler has been going through a rough
patch, missing his last two cuts, at the Players and the Memorial tournament,
and blamed his putting. In April, he missed the Masters cut after carding 80
and 73 at Augusta National.

“Not the start that I wanted to the
majors this year, but we’ve got three ahead of us, and I’m really looking
forward to this week,” said the world No 5.

“I’ve been putting well the past few
years. I feel like I’ve always been a strong putter. To not see putts go in the
past few tournaments is tough.”

Fowler called Oakmont’s notoriously fast,
sloping greens “some of the craziest greens I’ve ever played”, but
hoped his strong ball striking could put him in favourable position on the
putting surfaces.

Beyond that, he is hoping to maintain a
theme of familiarity and comfort.

“Having my mom, dad, and sister out
this week with their two little dogs and staying in a house. So set up a little
spot that feels like home for the week, and just out playing another
tournament, but it happens to be the US Open,” said Fowler.

“Now I’ve just got to be the one that
has the lowest score.”

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