DUBLIN, Ohio – Rickie Fowler will have come full circle today at the U.S. Open sectional qualifier in nearby Columbus.
Fowler, 32, will attempt to make his 13th U.S. Open – and 11th in a row – 13 years after coming to Columbus as a freshman at Oklahoma State. Then, Fowler was a wide-eyed 18-year-old Southern California with a promising golf career in front of him.
On that Monday in 2008, Fowler shot 66 at Brookside Country Club and 73 at Ohio State’s Scarlet Course. The 139 total put Fowler in a an 11-for-7 playoff. When two players opted not to participate in the playoff, it turned into a 9-for-7 that included Rocco Mediate, Chad Campbell and Dustin Johnson.
Unfortunately for Fowler, he still found himself in the playoff when darkness suspended play as four players competed for two spots.
On Tuesday morning, Fowler bogeyed the first hole and became first alternate in what was more than 24 hours of golf.
“This is one of the best places you can be first alternate, so I was told to be somewhat optimistic; I wasn’t betting on it,” Fowler said. “I knew there was a decent chance that I was going to be able to get in.”
Fowler did land a spot for the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines in San Diego when Shaun Micheel withdrew. Fowler was paired with Johnson and Chris Kirk, both Walker Cup teammates.
“First page of the leaderboard on the first day,” Fowler said of his recollections of his first two rounds in a major. “Snuck in, made the cut on the number Friday, barely.”
Fowler shot a 1-under 70 on Thursday and followed it with rounds of 79-76-72 to finish T-60 at Torrey Pines, which will play host to its second U.S. Open next week.
Though the last time he tried to qualify was 2010, Fowler still remembers the Brookside and Lakes country clubs, the two qualifiers in Columbus. Even though the week at Memorial was a bit uneven with weather delays, Fowler had taken last week off and is not playing in South Carolina this week, so he feels comfortable about the 36 holes today.
“Fairly easy walks; not worried about the physical side of it,” Fowler said of the two qualifying courses. “Just worried about the mental grind.”
Fowler will be paired with Cade Breitenstine and Pierceson Coody.
Coody, a University of Texas senior from Plano, is ranked first in the World Amateur Golf Rankings and was an integral part of the U.S. victory in the Walker Cup at Seminole Golf Club last month.
Breitenstine, a Kent State sophomore from Akron, Ohio, is ranked 435th.
For Fowler, the attitude 13 years later is maybe just a little different than in 2008.
“I’ve done this a couple of times now, so I know what I need to do,” Fowler said Sunday after he shot 2-under 70 at Muirfield Village Golf Club to finish T-11 in the Memorial Tournament. “The two courses are scoreable. You don’t have to go out there and play great. It’s about not making many mistakes.”
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