Golf

More ready than I’ve ever been: Rickie Fowler

Last year's Masters runner-up gains confidence from winning Phoenix Open

Rickie Fowler, eight times a top-five Major finisher without winning, says he has never been so prepared for a breakthrough triumph as he is at this week's Masters.

The 30-year-old American, second at Augusta National last year when a late charge fell short, took confidence after winning February's Phoenix Open to snap a two-year US PGA Tour victory drought.

"I'm more ready than I've ever been," Fowler said yesterday morning (Singapore time).

"Not saying that I can sit up here and tell you I'm definitely going to go win, but I like my chances."

The ninth-ranked Fowler, now in his 10th PGA campaign, famously had top-five finishes in all four Majors in 2014 - a full-year feat only Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth have matched.

But, unlike those American stars, Fowler couldn't claim a victory.

Instead, he shared second at the US and British Opens, third at the PGA Championship and fifth at the Masters.

Fowler shared fifth at the 2017 US Open and PGA Championship, then chased eventual champion Patrick Reed over Augusta National's back nine in a dramatic bid for a green jacket.

Fowler made birdies on six of the last 11 holes to challenge Reed after starting the day five strokes adrift, a closing birdie pulling him within a shot.

But Reed sank a five-foot par putt at 17 and a four-footer at 18 for a one-stroke triumph.

"Last year was big, just playing well on the weekend, executing that final nine and hitting shots when you're under the gun in the moment and under all that pressure," Fowler said.

"I also think that getting a win earlier this year at Phoenix, getting over all the stuff that happened there.

"Yeah, I'm more ready than I've ever been."

Don't mistake confidence for the cockiness of a more youthful Fowler, who challenged Augusta customs by wearing a cap backwards in speaking with reporters.

"I don't think you could ever say, 'This is my time. I'm going to go win,'" Fowler said.

"You have to go win it and then say it afterwards."

Unlike many top players, Fowler played last week in Texas rather than skip the week before the Masters, honing his golf game to sharpness.

"Definitely feel good where the game is at," Fowler said.

"I was able to check a lot of boxes leading into this week...

"Make sure everything is either where I want it or figure out the few things I want to work on and tighten up going into this week." - AFP

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