The Fortinet Championship marks the start of a new PGA Tour season and, for Rickie Fowler, a handful of other changes that he’s hoping will translate into wins.
Fowler opened the week in Napa with a bogey-free 5-under 67, including five birdies – a solid start despite having a new caddie, (kind of) new swing coach, new putter and new irons.
“I always like it when there's bogey-free in there,” Fowler said after his first round at Silverado Resort. “For the most part, that wasn't necessarily an issue, other than one hole I had to make about a 15-footer for par after I hit it in the bunker. Other than that, it was a fairly simple day.”
After more than a decade together, Fowler parted ways with longtime caddie Joe Skovron in August, prior to the FedEx St. Jude Championship, and split with his swing coach just last week. Now, he’s got friend and veteran Tour caddie Ricky Romano on the bag, and this is the first tournament for the 33-year-old since he re-enlisted swing coach Butch Harmon.
Fowler’s also made changes in his bag, finding a new Scotty putter in Memphis last month and re-upping on irons in recent weeks. It’s a much-needed refresh for a player in a mid-career slump; Fowler hasn’t won on Tour since the 2019 WM Phoenix Open and posted just one top 10 last season – T-3 at The CJ Cup.
“I've had some good weeks in the past few years, but it shouldn't just be a few weeks in those years, there needs to be more,” said Fowler, when asked about what a good start could do for him. “That's kind of the biggest thing is just getting back to playing some consistent golf, consistently being in contention and having chances to win tournaments."