Rickie Fowler - Heartbreak at Phoenix Open 2016

We focus on Rickie Fowler and ask how the world number four will recover after a painful play-off loss at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Rickie Fowler - Phoenix Open Heartbreak

Heartbreaking doesn't even begin to summarise the Waste Management Phoenix Open for Rickie Fowler. Disappointing, painstaking, crushing, a roller coaster of emotions; the dramatic play-off defeat to Hideki Matsuyama was not the scripted ending that we had all anticipated. All the clichés in the world can't do justice to how Rickie must be feeling this Monday.

It was supposed to end in triumph for the second time this year. All of his family and friends were along for the ride - including the grandparents who started him on the path of greatness at the age of four - whilst almost the entirety of the raucous TPC Scottsdale crowd were backing Rickie to secure the win against the lesser-known Matsuyama. The Puma Golf star was two shots to the good with just two holes to play, but then a drastic miscalculation led to a bogey at the treacherous 17th hole and it was all down-hill from there.

Rickie Fowler - Lost at 17

It was a pearler of a drive from the tee which carried the fairway and bounded forward to surpass 350 yards - yet also surpassing the par 4's green in the process. It meant his ball was wet and thus resulted in a two shot swing. After one of the best drives he could have possibly hit - it was a bitter pill to swallow.

"Clutch" is another word used when Rickie is in these later stages of tournaments - and "clutch" he did on 18 to then match Hideki's birdie. 18 - 18 - 10 - 17 was the running order of the play-off and whenever it looked like one had the advantage, the other showed nerves of steel and kept themselves in the race. Critics latched onto the absence of the iconic 16th hole in the play-off running order and, in truth, that would probably have played to Rickie's strengths better. Remember 17 at TPC Sawgrass?

Rickie Fowler at TPC Scottsdale

But it was 17 at TPC Scottsdale which proved Rickie's nemesis; seven times previous Rickie had found water on that particular hole over the course of his career. None of those shots would have hurt quite as much as the eighth and ninth times, however. The hole, the play-off, the tournament was gone in the blink of an eye. Fowler was essentially the victim of his own, new-found distance off the tee - squandering that two shot cushion in regulation by bombing his Cobra driver when a simple lay-up for a safe par would do the job. Whether it was a miscalculation or whether it was naivety in failing to protect a lead - only Rickie will know. Given the manner in which he's won previous tournaments, we wouldn't be surprised if it was the latter.

And that's what might hurt the most. Hideki Matsuyama was simply superb and played solid golf to always remain in the hunt without a single bogey over his last 28 holes - but that's not how Rickie will see it. A second title in 2016 slipped from his grasp in front of his nearest and dearest and, after four nerve-racking play-off holes, that's what pains the world number four the most.

Rickie Fowler - The Family Man

Away from all of the bravado, the showmanship and fashion statements - Rickie Fowler is just a family man at heart. Touching interviews on Saturday invited us behind the scenes to understand just how much his grandparents influenced his upbringing and having them along to see him at the top of the leaderboard came across as a real privilege. Rickie's new tattoo even honours his granddad with Japanese characters to spell out his name. Typical, then, that it was Japan's own Hideki Matsuyama who ruined the fairytale ending for the Fowlers.

But maybe this isn't the fairytale ending just yet. Maybe this is just a chapter in his journey to even more greatness. The sign of champions is not just in how they win tournaments but how they bounce back from some of the lowest points of their careers - and we're confident that Rickie Fowler can do just that. The Californian will learn the appropriate lessons from this loss in double-quick time and soon believe that he can beat anyone in the world on the biggest of occasions. And who knows, maybe even on a major occasion in 2016.


Rickie Fowler wears the latest Puma Golf collection on tour and has recently been turning heads with his new "high tops and joggers" look. Read more about Rickie Fowler's new take on golf fashion with the Golfposer eMAG here.

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