Rickie Fowler is back in Ryder Cup after a lift from Butch Harmon

by Joanne Miller

Rickie Fowler’s comeback story is one that showcases the power of perseverance and the importance of seeking help when needed. After a period of decline that saw Fowler drop from being a consistent player to 185th in the world rankings, he made the brave decision to reach out to his former coach, Butch Harmon, for assistance.

For someone like Harmon, who had been watching Fowler’s struggles from afar, the phone call from his former pupil was a welcome relief. Harmon had refrained from offering unsolicited advice, but he had quietly hoped that Fowler would seek his help. When Fowler finally made the call, both parties were excited to start working together again.

The turnaround for Fowler came quickly after reconnecting with Harmon. He made 23 out of 25 cuts this year, finished in the top 10 eight times, and won the Rocket Mortgage Classic in July. This success led to consistency and momentum, culminating in his fifth Ryder Cup appearance.

Fowler’s journey to the Ryder Cup in Italy was unlike his previous trips. With new equipment, a new coach, and a new swing, he has reinvented himself as a player. Reflecting on his progress, Fowler expressed his comfort in being at the event and acknowledged that his time in the sport is limited.

Fowler’s decline can be attributed to various elements of his game falling apart. His struggle off the tee, lack of creativity with his irons, and a surprising downturn in his short game and putting all contributed to his decline. Golf is a delicate sport, and sometimes even a small issue with a player’s swing or mechanics can have a detrimental effect on their confidence.

What helped Fowler turn things around was his willingness to embrace change. He made the decision to switch equipment, part ways with his caddie of 13 years, and seek out Harmon’s guidance. His new clubs and swing thoughts led to positive results, with a sixth-place finish at the Fortinet Championship and a second-place performance at the ZOZO Championship.

There was something noticeably different about Fowler when his former college coach, Alan Bratton, had dinner with him in January. He exuded confidence and spoke about his game and his work with Harmon. This renewed confidence translated into improved performance on the course, with Fowler’s putting and short game returning to form.

Throughout this journey, Fowler remained true to himself. He stayed positive and maintained a strong attitude, even during the toughest times. His dedication and perseverance paid off, allowing him to reclaim his status as a top player in the world.

Fowler’s story is a reminder that setbacks are a natural part of any athlete’s career. Seeking help, embracing change, and staying true to oneself are essential factors in overcoming challenges and achieving success. As Fowler heads into the Ryder Cup, he serves as an inspiration for anyone facing adversity, showing that it is possible to come back stronger than ever.

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