Watch: Rickie Fowler is struggling so badly on the greens, he can’t even pull a pin out

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Tim Schmitt
·2 min read
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SAN ANTONIO — Tell me if you’ve heard this one before: Four guys walk onto a green …

It certainly has been a frustrating stretch for Rickie Fowler, who likely won’t be in Augusta next week and is on pace to miss the FedEx Cup playoffs as well, sitting at 136th in the standings heading into this week.

And of course, Sir Nick Faldo’s shot at Fowler and subsequent apology firmly put the spotlight on the 2010 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, the man many consider the best current Tour player to have never won a major.

Fowler rallied to reach the weekend at the Valero Texas Open by virtue of a 68 on Friday, but just as he looked to be trending in the right direction, the five-time PGA Tour winner posted three bogeys in his first four holes coming out of a rain delay Saturday.

A microcosm of Fowler’s season came on the No. 3 at the TPC San Antonio Oaks Course, a short par 3 over a pond. Fowler’s tee shot found the green, but he had a 55-foot putt for birdie.

That’s when he tried to pull the flagstick from the hole and things got a little bizarre.

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Both Fowler and playing partner Charl Schwartzel struggled to get the stick removed from the hole, as did their caddies. The pin finally came free after Schwartzel lodged a club in to hold the hole down while his caddie pulled it free.

Fowler, who was 1 over for the tournament at the time, proceeded to three-putt the hole, dropping 11 shots off the lead.

The putting fiasco wasn’t an aberration for Fowler; in fact, it’s becoming the norm. Fowler’s drop in the world rankings — he’s fallen to 94th in Official World Golf Ranking and 118th in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings — has coincided with his lack of touch on the greens.

In 2017, Fowler finished in the top-10 in nearly half (10) of his 21 PGA Tour starts, won the Honda Classic and was second in scoring average. That also happened to be his best putting season, one in which he led the Tour in Strokes Gaines: Putting.

But since then, Fowler has been in a freefall — he was 43rd in 2018 in SG:P, followed by 13th in 2019, 60th in 2020 and now 176th in the current season.

Fowler did respond on Saturday with a pair of birdies after his string of bogeys, but without his putter showing marked improvement, there’s no reason to think he’ll snap out of this slump any time soon.