Rickie Fowler was stuck. Then along came his ‘super flopper’

Rickie Fowler

Rickie Fowler on Thursday on the hole at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club.

Golf Channel

Rickie Fowler talked, and he gestured. He was trying to debrief playing partner Keegan Bradley on what had just happened. But then Fowler came clean. 

Seconds before pulling off one of the best shots of his life, he was thinking of a dart. 

‘I’m just like, don’t thin it,” he told Bradley, the moment captured by the PGA Tour’s social media team. 

“Don’t thin it.”

So yeah, even Fowler was kinda floored. Miracles can do that to you. 

How else could you describe what happened on Thursday on his third shot on the par-5 18th at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club? On stroke two on the hole during the Zozo Championship’s first round, he had lost control of a hybrid from the middle of the fairway, his ball sailed very right, and he was in this jail: 

Fowler had 50 yards to the flag. 

And he was on an upslope. 

And the grass was thick. 

And about 30 yards in front of him was a forest of 60-foot-tall trees. 

And behind those was a bunker fronting the green. 

Oye. Fowler could maybe go low, but his ball would likely catch that sand. Or hit a tree. Or run through the green. 

“I don’t know what the option is here,” analyst and longtime pro Craig Perks said on the Golf Channel broadcast. “I don’t even think there’s a good option. Significant uphill. You got overhanging limbs. You got a bunker in play. I think if he could get it into the bunker short of the flag, that would be the best-case scenario.” 

“Yeah, especially if he could get it on that upslope somehow,” said Graham DeLaet, another analyst and pro. “But it’s so difficult to judge that perfectly.” 

“The severity of the slope that he’s hitting from from the rough, it’s going to make it jump up quickly,” Perks said. “You’ve got all these heavy limbs. Could come back down to his feet pretty quickly.”

Collin Morikawa hits a shot at the Zozo Championship.
Collin Morikawa grabs first-round lead at Zozo Championship
By: Josh Berhow

But what if Fowler went up and over the trees?

It’d take the right club. And the right swing. He’d need for his ball to get high enough and go long enough. 


Fowler assessed. He walked toward the trees for a look at the green. He walked down to his ball, his bag and his caddie, Ricky Romano. Fowler looked up. He looked up again. He walked back toward the trees. From the top of the upslope, he looked back down at his ball. He looked at the green. Fowler walked back down. He walked back up. He walked back down. He talked with Romano. He looked up. He looked up again. 

Fowler grabbed a wedge. He stood over his ball. He looked up. He backed up. He took a short practice swing. He looked up. Fowler went back to his bag and grabbed a pitching wedge. He took a short practice swing with it. He set it down. He took his stance. He looked up. He settled over his ball. He looked up once more. 

Fowler was ready. 

“That actually might be the best option,” Perks said on the broadcast. “These trees are probably 40-, 50-, 60-feet high, but with that upslope, it’s going to be helpful.” 

“Super flopper,” announcer George Savaricas said.  

“Yeah, full send,” Perks said. “180-mph ball speed.” 

Fowler hit. 

His ball cleared. 

It dropped 12 feet over the flag. It was in the air for some five seconds. 

He was putting for birdie. The crowd oohed.

“That’s incredible,” Perks said on the broadcast. “Incredible.” 

“What a shot,” Savaricas said.  

“They’ll be putting that one on repeat,” DeLaet said. “That’ll be on the social media channels for the PGA Tour. Amazing shot by Rickie Fowler.”


He didn’t thin it. From the green, Fowler two-putted for a par five, and he finished with a one-over 71, which was seven shots out of the lead held by Collin Morikawa.  

“The other fascinating thing about that flop shot he just hit is that’s something you don’t ever practice,” DeLaet said on the broadcast. “It just never even comes up. Maybe if you’re like playing a game in college with all the boys and you’re going behind a tree. 

“You just don’t ever, as a professional, practice that shot.” 

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Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at Golf.com and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at nick.piastowski@golf.com.

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