Augusta, April 6: Rickie Fowler is full of confidence as he looks for his Major breakthrough in the 2017 Masters, which starts today at Augusta National.
Fowler, 28, brings form to the Masters, having recorded top-20 finishes in each of his last five appearances on the PGA Tour this season, including a victory in the Honda Classic in February.
“I’ve had a lot of really good offence recently,” Fowler said last night, coming off a joint third finish in last week’s Houston Open. “Last Monday and Tuesday I worked with Butch Harmon on tightening up my game.
“We did some really good quality work and then it was nice to able to put it into play in Houston, and then have that to transfer into this week.
“This Monday I spent 30 minutes with Butch, on Tuesday I played 18 holes and now I am ready to go. It’s not like a need a lot of preparation now. I don’t need to play 18 every day.
“Now I will treat this as a normal tour event as much as possible. I don’t need to over prepare, but make sure I am rested and ready to go on Thursday.”
Fowler has past success at Augusta to build on too, despite missing the cut for the first time in six appearances in 2016; the Ryder Cup star finished tied for 12th in 2015 and tied for fifth in 2014.
“I am making a lot of birdies right now and this golf course yields a lot of birdies,” he added. “But avoiding mistakes is just as important. One of the biggest challenges at the Masters is just staying disciplined.
“There are some very tough pin positions – there are also some that you can get at – but you have to be really careful. Typically at Augusta, there is one side of the hole where you absolutely cannot hit your ball. The golf course is quite straightforward in that way – there are places you can hit your ball and places that you can’t. Sometimes you just have to accept a bogey or a double bogey, or maybe worse if there is water involved. Bad things are going to happen here.
“You must not push too much. One poor swing or one bad decision can cost you at Augusta, and if you combine the two you could be really screwed.”
And look out for Fowler on the par-four 11th tee this week. It is one of the most feared shots on this golf course, as golfers enter Amen Corner, but not to him.
“I love the drive on 11,” he said. “I have started playing with a shorter driver and if anything I hit a pretty straight ball to a cut, so to me I love the drive on 11, and also on 18.
“I was here for a photo-shoot with Mercedes-Benz a couple months ago and at 7:15 in the morning I had to go straight to the 11th tee, with no warm-up, and hit 25 drives. I hit 21 of them onto the fairway and I was pretty pleased about that. We are normally not allowed to do anything like that around Augusta in practice rounds so I got some pretty useful shots from the 11th tee that morning. I hit the fairway there again today.”
Fowler tees off in the first round at 10:12am local time (3:12pm BST), with Scotland’s Russell Knox and Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama.
Rickie Fowler is a Mercedes-Benz brand ambassador. Mercedes-Benz is a Global Sponsor of The Masters