Rickie Fowler’s name went up on the Wells Fargo Championship leader board Thursday morning and the place lit up in fuchsia and gold and crimson and orange.
That’s a bit of an exaggeration, of course, but the presence of Fowler does seem to spread some neon around. There are lots of golfers in the field at Quail Hollow Club with better records, but only the stars have the kind of celebrity he does.
What is it with him?
Well, he has movie star looks, which he frames in long hair and decorates with a mustache. His galleries generally include a heavy sprinkling of ladies.
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He looks like he’s having fun out there, like a 23-year-old with the world on a string. He’s best buddies with Masters champion Bubba Watson and they share two things – neither has a swing coach and both are members of the Golf Boys, along with Hunter Mahan and Ben Crane, as wild and crazy performers in the video “Oh! Oh! Oh!” available, at your own peril, on Fowler’s website.
When it comes to his wardrobe, he is The Rainbow Kid. Flashy, colorful to the extreme, always finishing off the week with an all-orange outfit, a bow to his old school Oklahoma State. He’s a spectacle, easy to pick out on the course, but for him it works. Wouldn’t work for, say, Jim Furyk, but it does for Rickie.
And he can play. If you’re going to dress like that, you’d better have some game.
Thursday he shot a 6-under-par 66, his round highlighted by an eagle 3 on the seventh hole and a birdie 3 on the 18th.
Fowler stands 5-foot-9 and weighs 150 pounds. But he has a swing, one he has basically fashioned on his own, that generates rocket power. On the par-5 seventh hole, he hit his drive 355 yards and then ripped a 6-iron 177 yards to within 12 feet and drained it. On the 18th, he drove 345 yards and had 133 to the flag, topping it off with an 8-foot putt.
Again, we go on Rickie watch. He’s got the good start and he loves the course and has some good history here. It’s only a matter of time before he wins a tournament in the United States (he won in Korea in December).
But that’s the trick, winning that first one.
“There’s obviously been a lot of talk about it,” said Fowler, “ I mean as soon as I got on Tour … I feel I’m good enough to win. I definitely feel that the amount of people expecting or thinking that I can win is a compliment.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if a win is just around the corner and once it comes, hopefully the doors open and we’ll go from there.”
Painting the days.