COMMENTARY | As sports fans, we want so badly to attach ourselves to greatness and witness it on any level, always searching for the next big thing.
On the PGA TOUR, that big thing looks to be Rickie Fowler. Though he may be small in stature at 5'9 and 150 lbs., he has the type of following that could explode into a massive media and fan frenzy. After winning the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow in May, Fowler now has his eyes set on a major championship.
It takes more than just flair, colorful clothes, and popular viral videos to make a champion. Winning is the only way to truly endear an athlete to fans. But those aspects coupled with his recent performance make him someone that can draw new U.S. fans to the sport.
Fowler has had a cult following that brought many of the younger, "X-Games" crowd into golf since he turned professional in 2009, but he has begun to demonstrate substance to his game that will make even traditionalists root for the former Oklahoma State All-American in 2012. He nearly went back-to-back and finished T2 at THE PLAYERS Championship on May 13. It stands to reason that there is nothing stopping the fearless player fans can't seem to get enough of.
He plays golf the way many of his world-class peers do not. That is, he is completely fearless in his approach. This is a direct contrast to the methodical, often painfully slow routines most PGA TOUR players demonstrate.
In other words, he's a 'grip it and rip it guy', much like John Daly or Bubba Watson. Fans, especially casual ones, love that.
He's got four top-ten finishes in 2012 and is showing no signs of slowing down. America needs a leader for the new generation of golfers, and Fowler fits the mold perfectly. He's got plenty of game, great demeanor, boyish charm, and marketability. Those aspects make him a role model and PR dream. The PGA TOUR would benefit a great deal from seeing him do well.
If Tiger Woods goes away for good and fails to win another major, he will have to pass the proverbial torch to someone. Though golf will perhaps never again see the kind of excitement that Woods created when he hit the scene in 1997, the sport is still seeing the residual effects of Woods' success. Golf can now be cool, and Fowler is the coolest guy on the TOUR today.
All that's left is for him to do is win a major championship. If he can do that, he may just become the most popular player in the world. At this point, there are players who deserve more credit than Fowler for their on-course performance, but at No. 18 in the world, he is close to putting his own stamp on the game.
If he keeps up the torrid pace he's set out on in the last few weeks and continues to win in 2012, golf and the PGA TOUR may have to brace itself for its next superstar.
Michael C. Jones is a Yahoo! Featured Contributor in Sports and PGA professional, covering the PGA TOUR. He has been published in southern California's Press-Enterprise and Examiner.com. Follow Michael on Twitter @MikeJonesTweets.
- Sports & Recreation
- PGA TOUR
- Wells Fargo Championship