We saw impressive performances by two up-and-comers last week — Rickie Fowler and Jamie Lovemark. Both found themselves in a three-way playoff with Troy Matteson. While Matteson won on the second playoff hole, there’s still something to be said about Fowler’s and Lovemark’s outstanding play.
Now I’m not going to do the whole “They’re the next big things!” (Though admittedly I’ve gone that route a bit in the past.) Frankly, it’s silly and overrated. The Golf Channel commentators have made no secret of their man-crush on Fowler with their nonstop chatter about his star quality. But I thought it was absolutely absurd when they tried to compare Fowler to Tiger. (It was probably better than their mention of his resemblance to Leonardo DiCaprio, though that was stupidly entertaining, especially when they did the split screen of the two.)
The golf world is always pondering over when we’ll discover someone who can rival Tiger’s greatness, but let’s be real — we won’t see that…ever — so long as he’s still competing. But, I find it refreshing to watch these young players perform well, particularly if it’s consistent.
Take Fowler, for example. In his first two starts as a professional he already has two top-10 finishes, not to mention they came in back-to-back weeks. He’s even played well enough to put himself at 135th place ($553,700) on the money list (!), which has gained him some special status for the rest of the season and to sidestep the first and possibly second stages of Q-school. Sure, it’s the Fall Series and the so-called marquee players (Tiger, Phil, etc.) aren’t in the field, but there were still some major champions and top-ranked guys. Plus, Fowler has put up good performances right out of the gate. From what I’ve seen, he seems to have a solid attitude and mentality, the kind where it wouldn’t be out of the question for him to win soon. In a brisk period, he’s shown he can handle the pressure and intensity competing against the big boys on the PGA Tour.
Now I’m positive about one thing — guys like Fowler, Lovemark, Rory McIlroy and Ryo Ishikawa are fun to watch — they bring a new level of excitement, one that makes us glued to our televisions like it did on Sunday. But, we’ve seen the dangers of ordaining budding young players as the real deal, only to cast some disappointment on our high expectations.
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