Rickie Fowler admits he had trouble seeing objects from 150 yards out

Rickie Fowler

Rickie Fowler hits his tee shot on Thursday on the 4th hole at Muirfield Village Golf Club.

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Rickie Fowler, during Thursday’s first round of the Memorial, birdied the par-4 2nd at Muirfield Village after hitting his approach, from 186 yards out, to 20 feet. 

He birdied the par-4 6th after hitting his approach there, from 161 yards out, to 9 feet. 

Fowler birdied the par-5 9th after hitting his second shot, from 289 yards out, to 101 yards out, and his third shot to 16 feet. 

He saw those shots from start to finish, too.

“I can actually see the ball land,” he said.      

Fowler confessed after his round that he’s struggled seeing objects farther away than 150 yards. “Before it was kind of a hazy shadow,” he said. So he experimented with sunglasses at home, started wearing a tinted, prescription pair at the Wells Fargo Championship at the start of last month and shot a three-under 69 on Thursday, which has him near the top of the leaderboard as he eyes his first win since 2019. 

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“So, no, I tried, it’s not enough to where, like, I really wanted to try going to like Lasik or anything like that,” Fowler said. “I’ve always been able to see up close fine; I don’t have any problem with that. The only time I start to struggle with some depth perception is in low-light situations, so like early morning or as the sun’s going down. And so I just wanted to try another option before going to Lasik down the road.

“Tried wearing some just standard sunglasses at home, because I always felt that with the nose piece, with how much I move sometimes in the swing, it would get in the way and I would lose sight of the ball, so I didn’t like glasses forever.

“Now that things have been cleaned up and I swing a little bit more just within myself, that gave me the opportunity in just standard sunglasses without prescription I saw that I wasn’t squinting as much, I wasn’t stressing my eyes as much, especially with it being bright out too, especially in Florida. So I said, shoot, why don’t we try prescription.” 

Whether there’s a correlation between sunglasses and scores remains to be seen. But he’s talked about his far-sightedness in golf, or lack thereof, in the past. 

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At last year’s Masters, with sundown rapidly approaching, Fowler hit his tee shot on the par-3 12th into the water ahead of the green and made a 6. Play was soon called for the day from there. Afterward, Fowler said he wished he would have called over an official to see how much time was left in the round — and added that in the gloaming he struggles with his eyesight, particularly his depth perception. “I don’t see very well far away,” he said.

In 2014, after the second round of the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool, Fowler described his eyes as “very sensitive.”

“I think some of the setup things that I struggle with sometimes, my shoulders get shut and my head gets behind the ball,” he said. “If any of those are just a little off and my head is not in the proper position, then my eyes aren’t able to see the line properly.”

Until now.

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Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor