U.S. Open 2018: Rickie Fowler’s game, love life in right place for first major victory

Ahead of the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills, Rickie Fowler has no reason to complain. He’s fresh off a T-8 finish at the Memorial and proposed to his girlfriend, Allison Stokke over the weekend.

Life is good.

But all that is behind him. Ahead of Fowler this weekend is another chance to capture his first major victory.

Fowler was a staple near the top of the leaderboard in 2014, finishing in the top five in all four majors. Then, after a drought where he missed three cuts and finished no better than T-11 in the next nine major championships, Fowler has three more top-five finishes

“I’ve been very close,” Fowler said Wednesday during his media conference. “I feel like there’s a few you could look at and say, if it wasn’t for that one guy, we would have won. There was a couple of majors where there was a runaway or someone just happened to play just that little bit better.

“There’s some scores that I’ve shot that have been good enough to win majors, but we haven’t been able to get it done that specific week.”

Fowler’s latest flirtation with a major championship came at the Masters in April when he pushed Patrick Reed to par the 72nd hole to avoid a playoff. That performance, grouped with his collection of high major finishes, have left the 29-year-old confident ahead of Shinnecock.

“I left (Augusta) knowing that I could go win a major championship,” Fowler said. “We all know I’m good enough to win. I know I’m good enough to win. … Phil (Mickelson) didn’t get his first for a while so there’s still hope. I’m not too worried about it. I’m excited about some of these courses that we have coming up, especially this week.”

Earlier in the day, Rory McIlroy was asked about Fowler and if he would be surprised if he never won a major. McIlroy, a man with three majors to his name, illustrated how highly the game’s best think of Fowler.

“I’d be very surprised if Rickie didn’t have multiple majors by the end of his career,” McIlroy said. “It’s just there’s so much more to winning a golf tournament than just playing well. Your timing has to be right. Things have to happen at the right time. You have to get momentum at the right time, a lucky break here and there. The more times Rickie puts himself in a position, the better his chances are of winning one.”

Fowler arrived at Shinnecock last Wednesday and has played two full rounds on what he called “one of my favorite courses in the U.S.” The trip to Long Island became unforgettable when Fowler on Friday dropped to a knee and  proposed to Stokke on the beach.

Of that moment Fowler said: “I didn’t want to carry around the ring a whole lot longer, so it was time to make that happen.”

Now with a rested body, strong game and clear mind, is this the week Fowler drops the title of “best golfer not to win a major” and brings home some hardware of his own?