What does Rickie Fowler think of all his orange-wearing lookalike fans?

February 27, 2020

There’s one in every crowd.

Scratch that. There’s usually more than one. If you’ve been to a PGA Tour event this decade, you’ve seen them: the orange-clad Rickie Fowler lookalikes. They’re wearing Puma, head-to-toe. They’re sometimes kids, but not as often as you’d think. Even as Fowler himself has turned to slightly more muted shades of highlighter orange, his fans keep trotting out that iconic, electric-pumpkin-on-fire orange ensemble. Something that would make a Syracuse fan blush.

Fowler rarely escapes the spotlight (in part for the reasons discussed in the prior paragraph) but we’ve not seem him much of late; he’s teed it up in just four Tour events since last season’s Tour Championship. He got married, and he went on a honeymoon, and he got sick, too, and didn’t play altogether too much golf. But this week he’s back at the Honda Classic, where he won in 2017 and finished T2 last year. He’s among the betting favorites, which isn’t always the case these days for the world No. 25. He’s among the fan favorites, too (again, that’s always the case).

The best Tour press conferences are the ones that get right to the good stuff. So after a couple throwaway intro remarks about Fowler feeling good about his game, spending time in the gym, etc., one reporter posed this question:

“Does it ever become exhausting — you can’t help but see how many little ones are dressed like Rickie and they just love you and they want to meet you and get your autograph? Does it ever just become exhausting to see them all out there? Do you want to make them all happy, if you know what I mean?”

It is, of course, an unanswerable question for Fowler. As flattering as it must be to have thousands of fans screaming your name, tracking your footsteps, wearing your clothes, of course it must become exhausting. But for Fowler, what’s the use in saying so? Whatever hassle the attention creates is well worth it.

“No, it’s obviously a great position that I’m in,” he said. “No, I mean, it makes your day better, if anything, to see the support and see what kind of impact that I’m able to have on people at times. I try and make that be a good impact.”

He generally does. Fowler is an affable guy who makes time for young fans and has no doubt signed more orange Puma hats than you or I could ever fathom. That’s an easy fact to dismiss, because he’s made more money than you or I could fathom, too — but still. Those hats don’t sign themselves.

“Unfortunately I’ve tried to; you can’t please everyone,” Fowler said of the realities of a never-ending autograph line. Sign 200? The 201st person will inevitably leave upset. “There’s some people that take that better than others, so that’s one of the downfalls that sometimes we have to deal with as far as trying to make people happy, but at the same time accepting that you can’t take care of everyone — because we’d be sitting out here signing all day, sometimes.”

You can typically spot a couple orange-clad onlookers in the background of every Rickie Fowler photo.
You can typically spot a couple orange-clad onlookers in the background of every Rickie Fowler photo.
Getty Images

The reporter followed up to ask if Fowler had any explanation as to why, exactly, he thinks he has started this phenomenon. Fowler, who has maintained that perfect edgy-yet-squeaky-clean persona over the course of his career, cited his authenticity — but also admitted he wasn’t really sure.

“I don’t know. To be honest, we didn’t try and do anything different or out of the ordinary as far as for who I am,” he said. “I feel like kids are really good at picking apart if someone is genuine or not, seeing if they’re fake or for real, and I feel like I’ve always, as far as me knowing and the people that I’ve grown up with from friends and family, I am who I am. This is who I’ve been growing up to playing junior golf, college golf, and on Tour. I’d like to say I haven’t changed.”

Fowler said he’s eager to climb in the World Rankings again, but added that he’s seen real value in taking some time away from the game. Between the grind of the Tour season plus obligations for sponsors and commercial shoots (“I do about 25 to 30 days a year,” he said) it takes a lot to get his schedule in order.

Still, we’re likely to see Fowler three weeks in a row now: Honda, Bay Hill, TPC Sawgrass. And that means there will be plenty of orange-clad fans walking alongside him.

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