Professional golf can be a lonely place when a run of bad form goes on for longer than expected. Given that it is an individual sport, the responsibility falls on the player and the player alone to get back to winning ways – a job far easier said than done.
For Rickie Fowler, this has been his reality for the last few years with the golfer unable to make any headway in his career.
Form is temporary, class is permanent
With every passing week over the last four years, the Californian would fall down the world rankings after missing yet another cut.Tweet
This culminated in Fowler slipping to an all-time low ranking of 185th at the end of 2022.
At this stage, most of the golf world had - perhaps understandably - written off a Fowler comeback. But just eight months on, the 34-year-old is now priced as one of the favourites to win The Open with the golf betting odds showing Fowler at 22/1.
It has been an inspiring example of self-determination but how has Fowler managed to do it?
Back to winning ways
As you can imagine, finding a way out of a rut when confidence on the golf course is low is a challenging task; there is nowhere to hide when it goes wrong. It is during these moments of uncertainty that golfers have to rely on the mechanics of their swings not to fail them under pressure.
Essentially, that is the way out of a poor run of form; to fall back on a swing that produced results in the past. In Fowler’s case, he parted ways with swing instructor John Tillery in September 2022 and reverted back to his old coach Butch Harmon who he worked alongside between 2013 and 2019.
During this time, Fowler reached a career-high of number four in the world rankings as well as finishing in the top five of every major championship. Without doubt, Fowler’s time under Harmon’s tutelage was the most productive of his career which is why it was unsurprising to see him link up with his former coach during the most barren spell of professional life.
Fowler did have to make some concessions to make the relationship with Harmon work as the 79-year-old no longer travels to tournaments. Instead, Fowler has spent the last few months flying to Harmon’s home in Las Vegas while also calling on his services via video calls. Their work has centred around ensuring Fowler’s swing isn’t as flat as it has been of late.
The subsequent results of these swing tweaks have been eye-catching with Fowler setting a US Open first-round scoring record after carding a 62 at The Los Angeles Country Club in June.
Despite leading going into the final round, Fowler would finish fifth overall after shooting a disappointing five over 75.
This was no false dawn though as just two weeks later, Fowler's perseverance was rewarded as he won the Rocket Mortgage Classic and ended his four-year wait for a PGA Tour victory; the Oklahoma State University graduate was back.Tweet
Just eight months after being ranked 185th, Fowler now lies 21st in the world rankings. What the future might hold for the 34-year-old remains to be seen but with Harmon back in his corner, Fowler has successfully made a comeback that few would have thought possible.