Rickie Fowler at the 2018 Ryder Cup outside Paris. Mike Ehrmann
Following his drought-breaking playoff win at the Rocket Mortgage Classic on Sunday, nobody asked Rickie Fowler specifically about the Ryder Cup. But he mentioned it anyway.
“One of the end goals was to be a part of the Ryder Cup team and that’s still what we’re focusing on right now,” he said, in response to a question from a PGA Tour rep about the rest of his season. “Been a part of a handful and that’s—they’re very special weeks, so that’s where I have my eyes.”
It’s worth noting, too, that this came in response to just the second question he was asked. On a personal level, it’s obvious that winning a PGA Tour event for the first time in four-and-a-half years, and officially ending the long slump that sent him careening down the World Ranking, was its own individual reward. Clearly, though, Fowler saw it as something more—a heck of a bullet point on the resume that American captain Zach Johnson will look over when he’s making his team this fall.
Since making his first Ryder Cup team in 2010, Fowler has missed the team event just twice; in 2012 at Medinah, and in the fall of 2021 at Whistling Straits, when the Americans won in a rout. That last absence must have particularly stung, and as he made clear in Detroit, his chief goal beyond winning was to work his way onto the roster that will attempt to beat the Europeans in Italy.
He was 16th in the US standings coming into the week and moved into the top 12 with this win, but he’s still far from securing one of the six ironclad automatic qualification spots. A hot finish certainly makes that possible, but if he can’t crack that, he’ll have to rely on a captain’s pick. Working in his favour there is the fact that there are six captain’s picks to be doled out, he’s an incredibly popular figure among his peers, and—at least for now—he’s got one of the hottest hands in the sport.
Johnson hasn’t made any comments specifically about Fowler–most of his press conferences have been dominated by LIV Golf discussion—but that time is coming soon, and you can bet he’s eyeing recent results very carefully. This win, of course, did not come out of the blue, and follows on the heels of success Fowler has had at the US Open and at other big tournaments this year, including the WGC-Match Play, where he defeated Jon Rahm head-to-head.
The Ryder Cup is coming quickly, but it’s still early for much speculation. We can’t say definitively where Fowler sits from US leadership’s perspective in the pecking order, and we don’t even know if he’s squarely on Johnson’s radar. What we do know, and what Fowler made clear Sunday, is that the Ryder Cup is very much on his radar. And with his first win in 1,610 day, he took a big step in the right direction.