Banter: Rickie Fowler doesn’t care about winning or catering to the press

Some of the post-U.S. Open murmuring from the golfspace this morning (beyond Skip Bayless): Two big bogeys from tournament first-round leader Rickie Fowler.

Yes, the root cause of his failing to get the job done Sunday was hitting just 61 percent of greens and missing key putts, but some are questioning his underlying attitude following his post-tournament remarks.

In a week where we’re combing player remarks for signs of apathy in the wake of Steve Elkington’s suggestion “Rory McIlroy is bored” and the ensuing firestorm, Fowler won’t have extinguished such questions with these comments.

As a preface: A player ought to stay in the present. Stay positive. All that good stuff, yes. But when you have a chance to win the U.S. Open, as Golf Digest’s Brian Wacker points out, you ought to seem disappointed when you don’t get the job done.

Instead, of sounding like, say Brian Harman who also couldn’t catch Koepka, Fowler said things like…

“It was nice to finish with some good swings…I feel like golf-wise I’m playing at the highest level. If you look at the negatives too much, I mean, you’re going to be stuck doing that the whole time.”

True, but does that mean you shouldn’t acknowledge the negative of, you know, not winning. Or is not winning not a negative?

“No real negatives. I wish I would have been able to give myself a few more looks out there today and make a few more birdies, but we came out swinging well.”

No real negatives? What about not playing well enough to win?

“You have to measure success in different ways, not just by winning, just because that doesn’t happen a whole lot. I think Tiger had the best winning percentage of all time at 30 percent, and you’re lucky to even sniff close to 10.” 

Factually true, yes. You have to measure improvement in ways other than just winning. But success? Isn’t winning the ultimate metric? And major success the only record of the game’s best?

“You kind of have to say, Hey, it’s a major. We played well this week. I felt like I did a lot of good things, especially in the first round, executing my game plan..to finish in double digits under par at a major championship, especially the Open, it was a good week.”

Again, take the positives. Sure. And maybe Fowler is just extremely quick at working through things. But I think fans would like to see a bit more bitterness and disappointment at the front end—suggestions he’ll rue the fact he let the U.S. Open slip through his grasp.

Also, some perceived bad stuff from one of the best guys in the game, and something that slipped underneath the radar. Fowler skipped the press center following his opening-round 65.

While this may not be a big deal, it’s not a great precedent when one of the most interesting and engaging players on Tour fails to talk to the press pen following a brilliant round. Yes, he did some post-round interviews for TV, but Fowler passed on the formal sit-down.

And again, this may be something that’s less troubling to some, and it may be largely a function of the shifting media landscape, but if top players follow suit, we may lose one of the most unique and significant elements of our game and be left with a few standard soundbites in reply to predictable questions instead.

Big deals? Maybe, maybe not. But both are topics of discussion today.

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