ALBANY, Bahamas – Rickie Fowler likened his early birdie blitz on Sunday at the Hero World Challenge to a rodeo ride on a wild bronco.
He wanted to just hang on till he was bucked off. The up and down crazy ride could be a metaphor for his career where he’s had plenty of highs, but some lows as well.
Fowler’s lows are first world problems. He’s failed to close out as many tournaments as he believes he should have. Including major championships.
He has four official wins on the PGA TOUR – this one is unofficial – but he has 12 runner-ups and seven thirds.
He has seven top-5 results in majors without a win including his incredible 2014 where he was T5-T2-T2-T3 across the four majors.
The trend continued this fall where in his one start this season at the OHL Classic in Mayakoba he was second.
But if his Sunday 11-under 61 at Albany – which set up a four-shot victory margin after coming back from a seven-shot deficit – showed anything… it is that he’s capable of riding that horse till it’s worn out.
He will always get back on and ride again.
With this attitude he can be a champion more often.
This week Fowler is the champ.
The 28-year-old was actually the solo leader before the turn such was his incredible opening.
He made seven straight birdies to open the round, cooled off with a near miss for another on the eighth before adding another at the ninth.
An 8-under 28 front nine. Astonishing.
Thoughts of 59 were certainly on the cards when he was 10 under through 13 holes, needing just three birdies in his last five holes. But he could only find one.
“You kind of just try… you ride until the horse kicks you off,” Fowler said of his incredible start.
“You start getting amped up or excited at times so you have to kind of pull yourself back and make sure you stay in the moment.
“It’s fun when you get on birdie runs just to see how far you can go. You know it’s not going to last forever…”
Now he will enter 2018 full of confidence hoping to once again get up on the horse multiple times.
Last season he claimed the Honda Classic but just as importantly ranked inside the top 40 on TOUR for every category in the important Strokes Gained statistics.
“The big thing was to not lose what we had going this past year because it was a very solid year across the board, and what we’re going to work on going forward is just picking up a few of the little things that could have made just that difference to put us in the winner’s circle more on Sunday,” he added.
Fowler wants more wins, but refuses to measure himself purely on trophies.
He says frustration has never really entered the picture.
“If you look at winning as your only sense of success, you’re going to deal with failure a lot,” he explained.
“There’s a lot of times where you could pick it apart and last year I could have gotten down on myself a handful of times for not getting the job done or not winning more, but it was a fun year.
“Being in contention with your buddies and some of the best players in the world, if you keep doing that trophies will fall into place.”
How will he continue to prepare himself over the holiday break?
With money games against Tiger Woods and others at their Medalist base in Florida.
“I think he sharpened me up a little bit,” Fowler said of getting into fierce battles with Woods.
“I’ve gotten a little scared of how good he was playing at home, thought I needed to start playing a little bit better or something.
“There’s no better way than putting yourself against guys that you’re going to be playing with, putting yourself in game‑time situations.”
You can expect him to be in these situations often – both at home and on the TOUR – again in 2018.
Don’t be surprised if he stays on the horse more often next year.