Rickie Fowler Searching For First Major At Course He Knows Well

HOYLAKE, England (AP) — The British Open’s return to Royal Liverpool couldn’t come at a better time for Rickie Fowler.

The American will get to resume his quest for a first major title with his game trending in the right direction and at a course where he has done well in the past.

Fowler made a run for the claret jug the last time the Open was played at Hoylake, finishing runner-up to Rory McIlroy. To add to his confidence, he arrives in England fresh from a victory that ended a winless streak that had lasted more than four years.

“Good time to be here,” Fowler told The Associated Press after a driving-range session on Tuesday. “Obviously played good here in ’14, coming off the play this year and how we’ve been playing. And nice to have a win under our belt now. Definitely looking forward to this week.”

Fowler won the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit earlier this month, earning his first victory on tour since 2019. He was already playing well before that, with one top-15 finish and three consecutive top-10 finishes that included a tie for fifth at the U.S. Open in Los Angeles. It was a good turnaround for Fowler after he did not qualify for the Masters and missed the cut at the PGA Championship.

He had a lackluster outing in Scotland last week, finishing tied for 42nd at the Scottish Open, but that did little to hurt his confidence.

“Would have liked to have played better last weekend, but got a lot of good stuff just being over here at the Scottish Open the week prior (to the British Open),” he said.

Fowler finished two shots behind McIlroy at Hoylake in 2014, playing well from the start and adjusting comfortably to the links course in northwestern England. He started the final round six shots off the lead but played bogey-free and made a late move for the victory with birdies on the 15th, 16th and 18th.

Fowler was among the most accurate drivers on the weekend that year, and finished with a tournament-high 23 birdies for the week. He said finding the fairways off the tee will be crucial again this year.

“The golf course is pretty simple, you just have to drive it well,” the 34-year-old American said.

Fowler said he still has his notes from that tournament and will go back to the information about how he played that week.

“I obviously had success in ’14, so probably gonna stick to doing a lot of the same stuff, because obviously it worked, so we’ll stick with a very similar game plan,” he said.

Fowler said the course now is a little bit softer than it was in 2014, but expected it to play similar despite changes that included a new “great little hole” par-3 17th that was attracting attention for its well-protected elevated green by the Dee Estuary sea.

He said there is still “a little bit more work” to be done before he tees off for the opening round on Thursday alongside Shane Lowry and Robert MacIntyre. Fowler couldn’t wait to get out there and compete, though.

“It will be a fun week,” he said.