Rickie Fowler ‘not scared to fail’ as US Open showdown with Rory McIlroy looms large

Rory McIlroy is one shot behind Rickie Fowler at the US Open at Los Angeles Country Club. Picture: Caroline Brehman/EPA

Rory McIlroy is one shot behind Rickie Fowler at the US Open at Los Angeles Country Club. Picture: Caroline Brehman/EPA

Published Jun 18, 2023


Los Angeles, United States - After years of struggle, Rickie Fowler is ready to relish his shot at the US Open, where he shares the lead with Wyndham Clark heading into Sunday's final round at Los Angeles Country Club.

Rory McIlroy, who is chasing an elusive fifth major win, is one shot behind.

"After going through the last few years I'm not scared to fail," Fowler said. "I've dealt with that. We're just going to go have fun, continue to try to execute, leave it all out there, see where we stand on 18."

Fowler, 34, burst onto the pro scene in 2009, fans drawn by his game as well as his brash style, signature orange outfits and flat-bill caps.

Fowler finished in the top five in all four majors in 2014 and owns eight top-five finishes in majors in his career.

But as his game deserted him in 2021 and 2022, it looked like the widely predicted major glory might never materialise.

Fowler, who slumped as low as 185th in the world rankings, does not downplay what a victory would mean.

"Obviously it would be huge," said the Californian. "Especially being here in Southern California, having a lot of people, family and friends that are out here this week."

Fowler missed the US Open in the past two years, but made up for lost time with a stunning eight-under par 62 in the first round that broke the record for a low round at a US Open first established 50 years ago.

Xander Schauffele matched that round on Thursday, but Fowler had managed to get his nose in front on Friday, when his eight birdies took his 36-hole tally to 18 -- another record.

"I would say this week, this is the best I've felt all year and definitely in a long time," Fowler said.

"We all feel nerves at times, depending on certain shots or circumstances, but I mentioned it yesterday and then still stand by it.

"This is the best I've felt, let alone in a normal tournament but especially a major, and I would say, really, ever in my career."

Fowler has risen to 45th in the world on the back of some solid showings this season. That includes a runner-up finish at the Zozo Championship last October as well as a tie for sixth at Colonial and tie for ninth at the Memorial in recent weeks.

He said a key improvement had been in his ability to concentrate throughout his rounds.

"I think the big thing is the mind can wander and you can kind of do whatever between shots," Fowler said. "It's nearly impossible to go out there and be dead focused for four to five hours.

"The big thing for me is kind of just zeroing in, narrowing things down and trying to get very precise and knowing exactly what I want to do when I'm about to hit a shot.

"I think I've done a lot better with my process leading up to shots -- understanding there are negative thoughts or that there is trouble for missed shots out there, and just accepting I may not hit it perfect, but this is where I'm going to try and hit it and this is what I'm focusing on."