‘Never seen him react like that’: Rickie Fowler snaps at fan with 1 word

Rickie Fowler

Rickie Fowler on Saturday on the 16th tee at TPC Sawgrass.

PGA Tour Live

Rickie Fowler’s caddie, Ricky Romano, offered a warning at first. On TPC Sawgrass’ 16th tee, his boss appeared bothered by a noise to his right, and the looper stepped in. 

“Sir,” Romano said, “just hold the cameras for me please. 

“Need all the phones on silent.”

Seconds later, Fowler said — and did — something else. 

During Saturday’s third round of the Players Championship, after his tee shot on the 523-yard par-5, Fowler snapped at a fan, the moment picked up by PGA Tour Live cameras. The fact that it was also Fowler, PGA Tour fan favorite and a pro almost universally liked, only added to the surprise. 

It was unclear who drew Fowler’s ire, or the sound that he heard. But the sequence appeared to have started as Fowler was readying to tee off on 16. Playing partner J.J. Spaun had hit, then Fowler stepped to his ball and waggled his club before stepping away — and here Romano spoke up. Fowler also looked to his right and pointed in that direction before returning to his ball. 

He swung. On his follow-through, his right hand released the club. There apparently had been another noise. 

Fowler then shouted just this:


He again pointed at the gallery to the right of the tee box and took three steps toward the area before stopping. Romano also walked over, as did what appeared to be an official. As Fowler yelled, PGA Tour Live mics also picked up someone saying: “Buddy, what are you doing?” They also picked up this exchange:  

Person one: “Come on, I just said something.” 

Person two: “Who was it?”  

Person three: “Right there. After we just told him not to.” 

Said analyst Matt Every on the broadcast: “Wow, I’ve never seen that out of Rickie. Totally understand it, though. Never seen that out of Rickie.” 

Fowler seemingly continued to be agitated. Though his tee shot finished in the fairway and, according to the PGA Tour’s online leaderboard, traveled 288 yards, his next two swings dropped into the water to the right of the green. His second stroke, from 231 yards out, found the penalty area. His fourth stroke, from 176 yards out, also found the penalty area. 

Said Every after the second stroke: “Yeah, my mind is still on that tee shot with Rickie. I’ve never seen him react like that. It must have been something pretty bad for him to snap like that because he’s normally very reserved.” 

Notably, stroke seven dropped to less than a foot from a hole, and he finished with a double-bogey seven on his way to a round of four-over 76. 

After the hole, Every and announcer Brian Katrek continued to talk on the broadcast about the disturbance on the tee, giving Fowler the benefit of the doubt. 

Said Katrek: “To your point on Rickie, though, you think about what he’s been asked to do over the years. An absolute fan favorite and always so patient with the autographs, with the pictures. So gracious to all the fans out here with the PGA Tour. I think that’s the first time I’ve ever seen anything remotely close to that.” 

Said Every: “I’m in the same boat. It was shocking, to be honest. And for the record, I’m going to Rickie’s side on this, no matter what. Because of what you just said. I know what kind of character he has. It will take a lot for a guy like him to snap like that.” 

Said Katrek: “You in the same boat?

Said Every: “No, it doesn’t take much for me to snap. That’s also why he’s still playing and I’m not probably.” 

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