Why is Rickie Fowler so popular? He has a thought about that 

Rickie Fowler

Rickie Fowler hits his tee shot on Saturday on the 9th hole at Los Angeles Country Club.

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LOS ANGELES — Why do you think Rickie Fowler is so dang popular?

Is it his play? That’s a big part of it. He’s a five-time PGA Tour winner who’s on the cusp of No. 6. Fowler’s leading the U.S. Open by a stroke through three rounds at Los Angeles Country Club, and everyone loves a front-runner.  

Is it his looks? Or his style? It doesn’t hurt. He’s a good-looking man. They don’t hand out the oodles of endorsements Fowler gets to ogres, you know.  

Is it his comeback from the abyss? It’s relatable to many of us. Fowler won big to start his career. In 2014, he finished in the top five of all four majors, In 2015, he won the Players Championship. Then he fell off a cliff. After a win in early February of 2019 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, he had seven top 10s on the PGA Tour through the start of this season. He plummeted down the world rankings. He missed majors. He changed caddies. He changed coaches. He changed his swing. But here he is now. 

“I sure hope everyone can relate to struggles because everyone deals with them,” Fowler said Friday, which ended with him holding the 36-hole lead. “No one’s perfect. I think you’d be lying if you haven’t been through a tough time, especially if you play golf. 

“No, it was great being able to walk up 18, especially after hitting a good drive and hitting it on the green. Didn’t have a whole lot to worry about. Yeah, the fans have been great here. I feel like especially yesterday as the round went on, just kind of more and more energy with — as I continued to go more and more under par. I’m looking forward to the weekend. It’s been a while since I’ve felt this good in a tournament, let alone a major. It’s going to be a challenge, but I’m definitely looking forward to it.”

Is it his sincerity? He hasn’t hidden from his struggles. Through fame, fortune and failures, he also signs every last sign hat, shirt and sign for every last man, woman and child, as he did on Saturday night here, despite being about a half-day away from the biggest round of his life. 

There’s also this.    

Here’s why Fowler thinks he’s so dang popular. He was asked the question on Friday. 

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“I wish there was an exact answer,” he started. “I’m not sure. I never planned to have kids want to look up to me or follow me or anything like that. 

“I feel like I’ve always been myself, and I don’t try and do anything different or be anyone else. I sure hope I come off as genuine. I feel like I’m just me being myself out here and love what I get to do. I do feel like kids or the youth are very good judges of character, so I’m going to take that as a compliment that a lot of kids do look up to me.”

He should. Children can smell a fraud. 

So to wrap things up here, we’ll add this exchange. 

It says much the same thing. 

“Does it put pressure on you so that it instills a slight fear in you that I must behave myself all the time so I maintain this extraordinary popularity, or does it in fact bore you up all the time?”

“No, there’s plenty of times where you know the cameras are around and people are watching, especially with today’s day and age with cancel culture and all that,” Fowler said. “You have to be aware. 

“At the same time, it’s being aware but still being just true to yourself and not trying to be different or fake.”

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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.