by Jeff Skinner
Kids grow up too fast nowadays. It seems like they go from kindergarten to college in the blink of an eye. They’re all in a hurry to grow up but there is something said for just being a kid. Even though we “play” golf, playing professional golf is anything but child’s play. It’s big business with plenty of pressure to succeed.
With all the recent success of some very young golfers it is easy to forget that some of these golfers are still kids. Rickie Fowler is 22 years and in his second year on the PGA Tour. After a stellar first season where he had two seconds, a third, seven top tens and earned Rookie of the Year 2011 was to be his break out year. 2011 may be disappointing so far but Fowler has plenty of time, after all, he’s just 22.
With Rory McIlroy’s win at The U.S. Open and Matteo Manassero’s two wins as a 17 year old, Fowler was expected to follow suit and step up his game with a few victories. He has been in the position to win on Sunday at least a half dozen times but has yet to find the formula to close out a win.
But let’s just hold off on passing judgment on Fowler or using that word choke. He’s still a kid and is far from Greg Norman in the choking department. All right, Rory has won at Fowler’s age but he’s an exception to the rule. And yes, Tiger won at a younger age but he’s the exception to all the rules. Let’s compare Fowler to the best American golfers out there today.
Steve Stricker is fourth in the Official World Golf Rankings and his first win came when he was 29. We’ll discount Phil Mickelson (6 OWGR) first because he is a sure Hall of Famer and second because he won a tour event while still in college. Matt Kuchar (8) first won at 24. Nick Watney (10), possibly playing the best golf of any American had his first win at 26. Long hitting Dustin Johnson (12) got his first win when he was 24 and Fowler’s playmate, Bubba Watson (15) didn’t break through until he was 31.
Fowler is a victim of circumstance and his own success. He and Rory are the same age so the comparison is natural and his early success has whet our appetite for more from Fowler. He may be young in years but on the course he plays an old school game. He’s decisive and quick and is not afraid to take chances. He handles his misses well and knows his day will come and it’s probably just around the corner.