Coming off the worst year of his career, Rickie Fowler missed the cut at the Shriners Children’s Open last week in his first event since August’s Wyndham Championship.
However, there was some light at the end of the tunnel when the 32-year-old closed his disappointing week with three straight birdies. Six days later in the same city, Las Vegas, but in a different tournament, Fowler kept the run going, shooting his second-straight 66 to finish the CJ Cup’s first-round tied for eighth.
But last weekend off benefitted Fowler as he took the time to visit Butch Harmon, his former swing coach of five years. Harmon, 78, stopped traveling with the Tour in 2019, but when the Tour came to his native Nevada, where he runs his School of Golf at Rio Secco, Fowler took the opportunity to see a comforting face.
“Yeah, so obviously having the weekend off last week, the course here was closed and I wanted to hit balls,” Fowler said. “So it’s always fun to catch up with Butchie, he’s someone that’s just fun to be around, and on top of that it was nice to use the facility over there, hit some balls.”
Full-field scores from the CJ Cup at Summit
Fowler, though, didn’t visit Harmon for swing instruction after a lackluster performance at TPC Summerlin. The Californian wanted assurance from a friend on what he’s been working on as Fowler searches for his mid-2010s form.
“He came over a couple days really just to hang out, I thought he was swinging fine,” Harmon told GolfChannel.com Rex Hoggard. “Didn’t really help him with his game and we were always so close.”
And Fowler got the confirmation he was looking for.
“For me, for the most part, since I worked with him for such a long time in kind of the middle part of my career there, I think just getting kind of like his stamp of approval,” Fowler said. “He loved everything that Tillery [current swing coach John Tillery] and I were working on, so it’s just fun to be around him. He was excited to see [Fowler’s wife] Allison and so spent some time with him, his wife, Christy, as well. As I said, he’s just fun to be around and he loved what we were working on. He just said go play and keep trusting it.”
Last season, Fowler failed to qualify for the FedExCup playoffs for the first time in his 11-year career and dropped to No. 128 in the world rankings after registering four top-20 finishes.
One of those top finishes was a T-11 at the PGA Championship, which he played on a special exemption. Fowler’s using that same recipe for success this week at The Summit Club. He’s in the limited field event on a sponsor’s invite and he’s one of the few players familiar with the course.
“Today was more just go out and trust what I’ve done before out here” Fowler said, “kind of stick to the way I’ve played the course before.”