U.S. Open 2019: How did Rickie Fowler let his lead slip away?

Rickie Fowler was sitting in a commanding second place after the first day at Pebble Beach, after sharing the lead for most of the day. But a disastrous second day brought up ghosts from the past.

You could practically hear the collective groan from Rickie Fowler fans everywhere. ‘Here we go again’ they all seemed to be saying. After shoring up a decisive 66 on the first day, and securing the lead for most of Day 1, the charismatic golfer was the polar opposite on Friday, receding backwards to a low score that almost had him being cut. How can one golfer be so sublime one day and a completely disappointing the very next?

Welcome to Rickie Fowler fandom. It can be so frustrating to be a fan of the very likeable– but extremely unpredictable– California native. He will often thrill with exhilarating golf, only to let it all slip away with successive rounds. Rickie Fowler often chokes as a major win becomes eminent. And the nerves look like they’re seeping in yet again.

How else can you explain trading in a 66 on Day 1 for a dismal 77 the very next? If the Florida resident was the epitome of stylish cool and calm on Thursday, consistently scoring three birdies on the front and back nines of start day, he abandoned that consistency on Friday. He began with a bogey, and ended just the same. He even double bogeyed at hole No. 8, just to further underscore his dip in form. He’s gone from T2 to T45 within 24 hours.

Rickie Fowler has the cool factor. He’s also one of the most liked players on the tour. He’s got style, endorsement deals that are the envy of most, and tons of charisma. Legend Jack Nicklaus and his wife are not only fans of the golfer, but practically family.

But what’s been missing in his trophy cabinet is a Major. He’s come close, most notably last year’s singular second place at The Masters. Combined with his most impressive top five placements at all four majors in 2014, two of them in 2017, and 10 top-10 finishes overall, it’s no wonder that he’s referred to as the “world’s best player to never win a major.”

Rickie Fowler, ranked No. 11 in world golf rankings, can come across as a player whose fame has surpassed his achievements. In some ways, it feels as if he’s taken over the mantle from Sergio Garcia after the Spanish player finally won The Masters in 2017.

Fowler just turned 30 last December, and he’s watched his friends on the tour win their first majors in their twenties, including Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, and Brooks Koepka. A jovial guy on the tour, he’s always been the first to shake everyone’s hand once they came off the green. When Tiger Woods won his first major after 11 years, at this year’s Masters, the first to congratulate him of course was Rickie Fowler with a smile and a handshake. He’s geniunely happy for his friends on the tour. He’s also been labeled “the most popular player never to have won a major.”

Everyone wants him to win. But it looks like it won’t happen at this Major this time.

Sitting at +1 at the end of Day 2 has put the 30-year-old talent in a precarious position once again. He will need to shoot a phenomenal round on moving day Saturday to put himself back in contention. With the leader, Gary Woodland, sitting at the top with -9, getting ahead will be a tall order.

It’s looking like the U.S. Open will be another major that will remain out of Fowler’s reach, for now.

The U.S. Open resumes on Saturday (moving day) and Sunday (final), viewable on the FOX Channel. Stay tuned here for all U.S. Open action.

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