Washington – If there is one thing better than winning a major, for Rickie Fowler it’s probably wearing the red, white and blue and playing for the USA Ryder Cup team against Europe.
Fowler, known for his fun-loving outlook and fashion flair, yearns for a first major golf title that has eluded him despite eight top-five major finishes, including April’s Masters runner-up effort.
But even more than that, the 29-year-old American is looking forward to the last week in September in Paris when he hopes to be part of a US team beating Europe in their own backyard for the first time in 25 years.
“The team events, they’re the best weeks of the year,” Fowler said. “Getting to be on a team with some of the other best players in the world and being able to throw on red, white and blue and represent your country, it’s special.”
Fowler helped the Americans beat Europe 17-11 in 2016 at Hazeltine after having lost six of seven before that. Now he hopes to help the US squad win in Europe for the first time since 1993.
“It was nice to be two years ago finally on the winning side. It’s something that hasn’t happened a whole lot in the last 20 years or so,” Fowler said.
“(It will be nice) to be on another team potentially later this year, to be able to go overseas and have a chance to win one overseas, which I can’t remember the last time that was done, it has been a while.”
Fowler was on losing US sides in 2010 at Wales and 2014 in Scotland, but has fun memories of playing before European spectators.
“My favourite part of the Ryder Cup would probably, outside of hanging with the team in the team room, be the first tee over there when you play overseas,” Fowler said.
“It’s pretty cool how they build (stands) as far as a horseshoe. You hear the fans out there starting at 5-5:30 in the morning with their chants and songs. It’s a different energy.”
Fowler is also convinced that a first major title in his future after he lost by a stroke to countryman Patrick Reed at Augusta National in April, making a late charge that has boosted his confidence.
“Confidence is the main thing. I kind of solidified and validated my actual belief of what I can go do,” Fowler said. “I left there knowing that I could go win a major championship.”
In 2014, Fowler finished in the top-five at all four majors. Only Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Jordan Spieth have matched the feat. But Fowler was the only one to do it without winning, taking fifth at the Masters, second at the US and British Opens and third at the PGA Championship. He also shared fifth at last year’s US Open and PGA.
“I’ve been very close. I feel like there’s a few you could look at and say, if it wasn’t for that one guy, we would have won,” Fowler said.
He scored a final round 65 at the US Open last month, the lowest round of the tournament, but had more important things to think about than golf.
He proposed to fiancée Allison Stokke, posting a photo of him kneeling on the sand near Shinnecock on his Instagram page.
“There was nothing planned out. I just really didn’t want to carry the ring around any longer,” Fowler said with a laugh. “We kept things very casual.”
Fowler, whose maternal grandfather is from Japan, is known for his caps and wearing orange on the last day of events in tribute to Oklahoma State University, which he attended.
He also made a 2011 music video with fellow “Golf Boys” Bubba Watson, Hunter Mahan and Ben Crane and it’s such camaraderie he thrives upon in US team events such as the Ryder Cup, which he is on pace to play in.
Fowler has won four US PGA titles, the most recent being at last year’s Honda Classic and biggest being the 2015 Players, which he almost equates to a major.
“I basically won a major. I won the Players against, arguably, the best field we play all year on a golf course that’s a very good test as well,” Fowler said.