Rickie Fowler rebounded big time in 2023, following up a frustrating 2022 with his first victory in four years when he won the Rocket Mortgage Classic in July.
He also had eight tops 10s and missed just two cuts in 25 starts, just one year after he had one top 10 and missed nine cuts.
Fowler had said he was close during the times he struggled, but he also made a couple of notable changes. One was returning to Butch Harmon (and also working with his brother, Craig Harmon), and the other was on his bag. He split with longtime caddie Joe Skovron and hired Ricky Romano a couple of months later.
But how did Romano get hired to loop for one of the most popular players in the last couple of decades? A direct message on Instagram helped.
Romano was the guest on this week’s Subpar Podcast with co-hosts Colt Knost and Drew Stoltz, and he explained how he got the job with Fowler, a wild week at the Ryder Cup and more.
Romano, like Fowler and Skovron, grew up in Murietta, Calif., and while all three knew each other, Romano said he and Fowler were friends but not necessarily hanging out daily, mainly because Romano is four years older.
“We’ve always had a relationship and always had lots of respect for each other,” Romano said. “I have always respected his game and always known he’s going to do great things.”
Romano played college golf at Houston but later joined the caddie circuit full-time. He was with Nate Lashley in August of last year when Fowler and Skovron parted ways.
“I texted [Skovron] and asked him a question about like, ‘Hey, are you going to be in town this day, or are we going to play golf?’ It was something to that extent,” Romano said. “And he goes, ‘Actually, Rick and I, we just split.’ He goes, ‘I recommended you for the job when I left.’ He goes, ‘Do with it what you will. Whenever you want to call Rickie or just want to leave it alone.’ Really cool thing for Joe to do.”
Romano, who said Skovron is more like family than he is a friend, took him up on that offer. He texted Fowler a couple of days later — but never got a response.
A couple of months went by, and Romano was visiting his mom and cousins in Vancouver, Wash., when he tried one more time.
“I’ll never forget it. I was in an LA Fitness, I was working out one morning and something told me to like send another message,” Romano said. “Like just say, ‘Hey, have you found a caddie? Have you thought about it? Just can you give me something?’ So I saw he was on Instagram. I sent him a direct message on Instagram, and two minutes later he called me. We talked for like 10-15 minutes and just kind of caught up, and then he offered me the job.”
Romano said he went to Florida to spend a few days with Fowler at The Grove XXIII — Michael Jordan’s private club — to familiarize himself with Fowler’s game. Their first tournament together was the Fortinet Championship in Napa, Calif., and Fowler tied for 6th. Fowler’s World Ranking was 185th at the Fortinet. He’s now 24th.
“Off and running we went from there,” Romano said. “He started building confidence and building confidence and building confidence.”
You can listen to Romano’s complete Subpar interview below.