Rickie Fowler win proves point but his 2019 major championship futures lack value
Rickie Fowler win proves point but his 2019 major championship futures lack value
Rickie Fowler scored an important win at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, but his 2019 major championship futures price might be too on the nose.
Throughout the course of his PGA Tour career, fan-favorite Rickie Fowler has often been mislabeled. The talent has always been clear, but people are quick to claim that his popularity is more a product of his bright wardrobe than his success as a golfer. To an extent, there’s truth in that notion. Younger fans gravitated towards him because he looks more like them than the stuffy old men they tend to associate with golf. But Fowler’s game has been as advertised even if he doesn’t have the bottom-line victories we all pegged him for when he stormed onto the scene in 2009 __Play to win:__ [Enter our free contests. Win cool merch or even cash.](https://betchicago.chalkline.com/) On Sunday, Fowler won his fifth PGA Tour event at the 2019 Waste Management Phoenix Open. And while the Players Championship win in 2015 is still the signature victory of his career, we may look back on the win at TPC Scottsdale as a catalyst when it is all said and done. Fowler has a history in Scottsdale. He lost a playoff at Grayhawk in his second PGA Tour event after turning professional in 2009 and then lost a playoff in horrifying fashion to Hideki Matsuyama at the 2016 Waste Management Phoenix Open. Considering that he entered the final round with just four career tour wins to his name, that history was more than enough for oddsmakers to [doubt his chances](https://www.betchicago.com/waste-management-phoenix-open-odds-rickie-fowler-value) of winning despite a four-stroke lead and they were very nearly right. Fowler has earned a reputation as a guy who can’t close the deal because of moments like him hitting two balls into the water on No. 17 in 2016. So when things looked like they were unraveling on a drenched Sunday in one of the sunniest places on earth, it felt like an omen. However, when Fowler was able to overcome an unconscionable bad break on No. 11 (we’ll circle back to this) to win soundly, it may have signaled that anyone who has considered Fowler to be a “choker” has been at least a little wrong about him all along. And with the statistics telling us that he’s been a top-five player in terms of strokes-gained for [the better part of two years](https://twitter.com/DataGolf/status/1092474167411134468) now, it makes you wonder about his major championship potential for 2019. ## Rickie Fowler’s mental resolve When players that we know to be talented don’t win multiple times a year, we’re quick to claim that they lack a certain gene. That has a lot to do with this generation of golf fans being programmed to think that Tiger Woods is the norm and not the exception. We know that what Tiger accomplished at his peak was freakish, but we didn’t really understand that he’s one of few players in history whose talent transcended luck in a lot of ways. Golf is a sport where luck is such a large factor when it comes to winning, that you can find a lot of examples of player like Fowler who are on par statistically with their peers but they only manage a handful of wins in comparison to an almost identical player with closer to double-digit wins. Because you can go out and shoot 19-under in a tournament where the winner is usually a dozen under par or so and lose because somebody else fired four sub-65 rounds while playing the week of their lives. Take Sunday for instance. Fowler won by two strokes and would have won in a waltz if not for what happened at No. 11. Fowler didn’t take into account the wet putting surface on a chip into the green and the ball skidded past the hole, off the green, down an embankment, around a bunker and into the water. The misexecution was his fault in its entirety. After two drops rolled back into the water, Fowler was allowed to place the ball at the spot where he had entered the penalty area and was preparing to hit his fifth shot when the ball rolled from its placed position back into the water. Fowler wasn’t within 15 yards of the ball when it rolled back in, but he was penalized again for the ball going back into the pond. <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16Svz3nHOw0" class="embedly-card" data-card-width="100%" data-card-controls="0">Embedded content: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16Svz3nHOw0</a> He’d card a triple-bogey on the hole and then looked rattled as he carded a bogey on the ensuing hole to evaporate a comfortable lead. That’s the sort of break that defeats most players, but Fowler was able to gather himself and rally, taking advantage of a Branden Grace misstep on No. 17 (which Fowler birdied in all four rounds this year) to come-from-behind and win. While Sunday’s finish doesn’t guarantee that Fowler is going to convert every 54-hole lead he has for the rest of his career, it does a lot to dispel the notion that he’s not tough enough between the ears to close tournaments. You don’t become the only PGA Tour player since at least 1983 (when they started keeping the stats necessary to track this) to win with a triple-bogey and a double-bogey (he made six on No. 5) in their final round without mental fortitude. ## The state of Rickie Fowler’s game The win on Sunday [vaulted](http://www.owgr.com/ranking) Fowler from No. 14 in the Official World Golf Ranking to No. 8 and puts him on a list of 10-12 players who have the talent to be considered the hottest player in the world at any given moment. Last season, he ranked inside the top 55 among PGA Tour players in all four strokes-gained categories and a [well-rounded arsenal](https://www.pgatour.com/players/player.32102.rickie-fowler.html) like that expand your opportunities to win because it travels to any style of course. So if we’re operating under the impression that the win on Sunday was Fowler overcoming a major hurdle, it opens the doors for him to make up for lost time in the next couple seasons. Fowler has the talent to win three or four times in any given season. And if your game is in the type of shape that you can win that often it typically means that you’re going to have a chance to compete for a major championship somewhere along the line. But how does his game profile to the 2019 major championship venues? ## Rickie Fowler’s 2019 major championship futures Like we said, a well-rounded game like Fowler’s tends to travel well to all courses. However, there are often a few additional markers that elevate a player’s chances at each respective venue they play. At Augusta National, we know that proximity to hole is key with the undulating greens placing a premium on approach shots reaching the proper level. At U.S. Opens, you’ve got to hit fairways or spend a hellacious week navigating the most unrelenting rough you’ll see all season. At the British Open, you have to be able handle high winds and there’s a premium placed on course navigation in the true links-style conditions. At the PGA Championship, it depends on the venue and the weather conditions. The Masters is the constant, and so it’s the easiest to project. Fowler has four top-12 finishes there in the last five years, including a second-place finish last year and a fifth-place finish in 2014. Proximity to hole isn’t a problem when Fowler is at the top of the game and he can work the ball in both directions, so this is going to tend to be his best shot to win a major every year. Fowler opened at 16/1 to win the 2019 Masters last August and remains there after his win on Sunday at Westgate. That puts him in a cluster with Justin Thomas and Jon Rahm, two of the most explosive talents on tour, behind favorite Justin Rose at 12/1 and then Dustin Johnson, Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth, Brooks Koepka and Rory McIlroy at 14/1. All things considered, that’s an appropriate price. He doesn’t have the upside of Rahm or Thomas, but there’s value in consistency and he’s still more than talented enough to go low when needed to make a leaderboard charge. At the same time, it’s not an inspiring price. The depth in golf right now is both a blessing and a curse and the value in playing golf futures is locked in finding the guy whose game is on the upswing and riding the wave for [a solid return.](https://www.betchicago.com/matt-kuchar-2019-major-championship-odds) Looking at the rest of the majors, Fowler is going to be something of an unknown at Pebble Beach for the U.S. Open. He’s avoided the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am the majority of his career, playing the event twice and skipping it since 2012. Fowler qualified for the 2009 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black as an amateur. He was cut, but did shoot a 68 on Friday. Then he finished seventh at The Barclays when it was at Bethpage Black in 2016, so he’s got a shot there, we just don’t know how the course will be set up and what strengths it will play to. Royal Portrush is an unknown for everybody at the 2019 British Open. We only have past links golf appearances to go by, and Fowler has made eight of nine cuts at The Open Championship and has four top-25s, two top-fives and a runner-up finish. So it’s reasonable to call him a contender there too. The problem, again, is the price. At +350 to win any major in 2019, there just isn’t a lot of excitement. Because while Fowler has been mislabeled throughout his career, he’s priced about right after his win on Sunday. Perhaps even a little too on the nose. __Read on:__ [More golf coverage from BetChicago.](https://www.betchicago.com/golf-odds)2019-02-04T20:10:43.464Z2019-02-04T15:10-05:00