Why has Rickie Fowler struggled at the Masters

Feb 2, 2017; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; Rickie Fowler with his tee shot on the 9th during the first round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open golf tournament at TPC Scottsdale. Mandatory Credit: Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 2, 2017; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; Rickie Fowler with his tee shot on the 9th during the first round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open golf tournament at TPC Scottsdale. Mandatory Credit: Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports /
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Rickie Fowler is hoping to improve his chances at the Augusta National Masters tournament, where he failed to make the cut last year.

Rickie Fowler has had a terrific start to the year 2017 with a first US PGA win at the Honda Classic and a top 4 finish at the Waste Management Open, both in February, and a top three spot just last week at the Shell Houston Open. Fowler is hoping that his road so far this year will give him the confidence boost he needs to erase the poor performance last year, where he didn’t even make the cut for the first time since coming to the tournament.

“I just made some dumb mistakes that easily could have been avoided,” Fowler said at Monday’s press conference about the disappointing results from last year’s tourney.

Fowler seems to have a better game plan this go around.

“I don’t have to play my best golf around here to get it around the golf course and still find a way to score. I know this golf course too well now to really make those mistakes that I did last year,” he added on Monday.

The 28 year-old has also learned from his past mistakes.

“I think it’s good to remember your bad shots and your good shots,” Fowler said on Monday, according to Golf Digest. “Being that way, when you end up in a similar situation, if it’s a good one, you remember what you were thinking and go through a process and get in that same frame of mind.”

Rickie Fowler put in a more solid finish the year before, ending in the top 12 in 2015, but his best performance was in 2014, where he hit a 67 in the third round and tied for fifth. Although he played the final 11 holes 4-under par, it wasn’t enough, notably missing a birdie on the closing hole. 2014 was a top year for the 28 year-old, where he finished in the top five in all four majors. It sounds like he’s learned from the good holes he played that year as well as last year’s shock missed cut.

“It’s live and learn. Hopefully that’s something that doesn’t happen again,” he added at the Monday presser.

Fowler’s top 12 finish in 2015 showed the great promise that his talent has always indicated. The problem with the Masters Cup is that it calls for greater precision and control on the course. It’s a matter of improving just a few shots and picking up more birdies. We know he has incredible talent and a broad amount of skills to draw from, but what’s prevented him from achieving his first Major is greater control, especially in the more crucial rounds. Rickie Fowler needs to close if he’s going to get his first major title.

AUGUSTA, GA – APRIL 13: Rickie Fowler of the United States hits his tee shot on the 12th hole during the final round of the 2014 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 13, 2014 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GA – APRIL 13: Rickie Fowler of the United States hits his tee shot on the 12th hole during the final round of the 2014 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 13, 2014 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images) /

He came the closest in his breakout year of 2014, where he shot his lowest round early on and shot a 67. He played nearly flawless and almost did it that year but ultimately tied with Matt Kuchar for 5th place. Fowler played brilliantly in the first and especially the third round where he hit that 67, but lacked consistency in the second and last rounds. If you look at the numbers for Bubba Watson, who won the 2014 major, his performance throughout was efficiently uniform, keeping to around 69 except for the third round. Same for second place winners Jonas Blixt and Jordan Spieth. For Fowler, it’s all about playing with just a little more precision and keeping his performance consistent.

We know that Rickie Fowler can play brilliantly, but at this year’s Masters, we’ll see if the 28 year-old can keep his mind strong to maintain a consistent, low score throughout the rounds, something he’s never been able to do yet. With his recent wins and top finishes, perhaps he’s found the magic formula to maintaining a steely mind to go along with all of his raw talent.