It was only two short years ago when Rickie Fowler arrived at the Arnold Palmer Invitational ranked No. 7 in the world.
But since then, Fowler’s game has been in a steady downward spiral. He came out of last year’s event at Bay Hill ranked No. 27 after a T18, portending a more extended struggle.
Then came swing changes during the PGA Tour’s shutdown amid the coronavirus pandemic. Fowler’s progress was on display during a televised charity event in May, when he hit several quality shots while paired with Matthew Wolff.
However, the swing changes have not held up well under the rigors of PGA Tour events.
Fowler has played in 19 events since the Tour resumed last June. He has eight missed cuts during that span, posted zero top 10s and only three top 20s as he has plummeted to 65th in the world.
“Everyone that’s played really at all, especially at some sort of a high level, completely understands that golf is up-and-down,” he said Tuesday ahead of this year’s Arnold Palmer Invitational. “You take advantage of the times where you’re playing well and ride those out, because you know that it’s not always going to be that way.
“There are times where it’s going to go down and you’re going to have to fight through it. Unfortunately, this one’s been a little longer than I would like it to have been.”
Fowler is coming off a T20 at the Genesis Invitational in his last start, which followed a pair of missed cuts.
“We’re grinding through it,” he said. “A lot of it I would say is more just on the mental side now, just getting back and playing as much as possible to just get the reps in.”
It hasn’t helped that Fowler has been leapfrogged by a slew of up-and-coming young stars. Collin Morikawa, 24, already has a major under his belt and added a WGC title last week.
He beat out the likes of 23-year-old Viktor Hovland, owner of four consecutive top-six finishes worldwide, and 24-year-old Scottie Scheffler.
The 32-year-old Fowler is also looking up the world rankings at the likes of No. 15 Daniel Berger (27), No. 16 Matthew Fitzpatrick (26), No. 17 Sungjae Im (22) and No. 20 Wolff (21), among several others.
The ever-positive Fowler admitted it has been a frustrating stretch, with a personal goal of not being that frustration home with him. On the course, the short-term goal is to get back inside the top 50 — the demarcation line for entry into all the marquee events.
“Things are starting to head the right way,” he said. “It’s a matter of time. We’ll just keep kicking the darn door and she’ll fall.”
–Field Level Media