NASSAU, Bahamas, Nov 29 – Defending Hero World Challenge champion Rickie Fowler is hoping that hitting 30 will signal an overdue era off success at golf’s highest level.
The American, who turns 30 on December 13, has three runner-up finishes and five other top-fives in his 36 major championship appearances since his debut at the 2008 US Open.
While he’s not about to panic, Fowler would dearly like to see his name crossed off the “best players never to win a major” list.
“I’ve always heard that 30s were your prime, so we’re just getting into it,” he said Wednesday as he prepared to defend his title in the elite 18-player unofficial event on the Albany course, where Fowler stormed to victory last year with a blistering final-round 61.
The win was Fowler’s eighth since turning professional in 2009. It was his last trip to the winner’s circle, but Fowler remains confident he’ll be hoisting more trophies.
“There’s no urgency, and I don’t see any kind of rush or anything like that,” said Fowler, whose two runner-up finishes in 2018 included a second place at the Masters.
“I look at the next five to 10 years as the time to take advantage of things and make sure that we’re not sitting back and just relaxing, go out and take care of what we want to take care of and see what can happen.
“I would say the 40s is a little bit more of where we’d look at prime would be kind of in the rear-view mirror.
“So, I’m looking forward to these next five to 10 years of taking advantage of them and making them count.”
Fowler arrives in the Bahamas off of a tie for fourth place in the Shriners Hospitals for Children and a share of 16th at the Mayakoba Classic earlier this month.
Unlike those events, this week’s tournament is not part of the official US PGA Tour 2018-19 season. But the elite field, world rankings points on offer and host Tiger Woods give the event plenty of prestige.
Last year when Woods presented the trophy to Fowler the 14-time major champion’s return to competition was still shrouded in uncertainty.
Although Woods has proven himself able to win again, Fowler said he doesn’t think Woods is as far ahead of the pack as he once was.
“He’s someone that we want to go beat up on, he wants to beat up on us,” Fowler said. “I feel like it’s a lot more of a level playing field now.
“You look at the kind of late the ’90s, early 2000s when he was 30 percent win percentage and all that, he stepped on the tee and it was a different presence. He still carries that presence.
“He’s still won 14 majors, 80 wins, so it’s got to count for something.
“But no, we’re not scared to go toe to toe and go have some fun out there with him.”