As part of the lead–up to the 2018 Ryder Cup, which will be played at Le Golf National in France from Sept. 28–30, we'll be providing player capsules for each of the 12 members of Team USA.
As a reminder, here are the American players who will try to win the Cup on European soil for the first time in 25 years:
All of the capsules will follow the same format. We'll run through a few factoids (age, world ranking, Ryder Cup record, season statistics), look at how each golfer made the team, what he brings to the squad and whom he might partner with.
World ranking: 9
Season stats: Two second-place finishes (including at the Masters) 5 top 10s, 13 top 25s, 16 made cuts in 19 events, top 30 in all four majors
Ryder Cup experience: Three appearances: 2010, 2014, 2016. 2-4-5 overall record, 1-1-1 in singles
How he made the team: It's been another winless season for Fowler, who somehow has only four PGA wins in his eight years on Tour, and one could argue that this has been his least impressive year as a professional. Apart from Augusta, where he fired a back-nine 32 to put the pressure on Patrick Reed, it was a particularly frustrating campaign at the majors. At the U.S. Open, Fowler entered the weekend within striking distance before shooting 84. At the British, he was three back heading into Saturday then shot three over on a weekend where everyone went the other way. And at the PGA—where, granted, he was dealing with an oblique injury—he was again three back after two rounds then shot even par over the weekend to fall into a tie for 12th.
However, he remains a top-10 player in the world due largely to his consistency and strong play in the biggest events. The solo second at Augusta earned him a whole boatload of Ryder Cup points—money earned in this year's majors counted double toward the standings, which are essentially on a weighted moneylist—and he had a solid late summer (T-20 at the U.S. Open, T-8 at the Memorial, T-12 at the PGA Championship) to finish seventh in the points standings.
Realistically speaking, though, Fowler would have been selected as a captain's pick if he didn't qualify on points. Along with his BFFs Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth—and not-so-much-BFF-but-great-teammate Patrick Reed—he's an integral member of the young American core that has won three straight team competitions (2015 Presidents Cup, 2016 Ryder Cup, 2017 Presidents Cup).
What he brings to the team: For a 29-year-old he's got quite a bit of experience. He's already played in three Ryder Cups and two Presidents Cups, though his record isn't anything special: 2-4-5 in the Ryder Cup and 4-3-1 in the Presidents Cup.
Fowler's greatest strength is his putting, which, stats be damned, might be the best of anyone in the world. It's not like the statistics are terrible—he's 10th in total putting, 15th in three-putt avoidance and 37th in strokes gained putting—but they don't do Fowler's magic with the flatstick any justice. Just look at this stroke!
A NATURAL PUTTER PATH TRAVELS IN TO IN. See this in the wormseye view off Rickie Fowler’s stroke.
He doesn’t have a lot of face rotation but path certainly travels in to in (watch the E on Cameron.) Face stays square to the path (opens in backstroke.)
Great motion!#putting pic.twitter.com/OA0Oqz3sfi
— James Jankowski Golf (@JamesJankGolf) January 15, 2018
When you putt that well, you're going to get up-and-down for par a bunch and make a bunch of birdies. Fowler is fifth in scrambling on Tour, ninth in sand saves, 23rd in strokes gained around the green and 17th in birdie or better percentage.
He tends to play tough courses well, as evidenced by his awesome history at the majors. Le Golf National is going to be both tight and punitive—Europe knows that the American bombers would benefit from a wide-open set up like we saw at Hazeltine—and Fowler's hard-course expertise will be an asset.
Fowler did take off the first two FedEx Cup playoff events to rest a partial oblique tear, but his strong play at the BMW (T-8) and opening-round 65 at the Tour Championship would seem to suggest he's feeling just fine.
Potential partners: Fowler teamed up with Thomas three times at last year's Presidents Cup, going 2-0-1 in the process. That would be a natural pairing for Captain Furyk, but Fowler is also quite close with Phil Mickelson, whom he went 1-1 with at Hazeltine. It wouldn't be surprising if Furyk pairs him with Tiger, as the two are friends and play together often in Florida.
If I had to make a prediction, I'd say Fowler plays two matches with Thomas, one with Mickelson and sits out the other session.