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Rickie Fowler aims to defend title at 2024 Rocket Mortgage Classic

2023 Rocket Mortgage Classic

Rickie Fowler is searching for his game again.

The 35-year-old fan favorite is mired in a season-long slump that has him on the outside looking in for the FedEx Cup playoffs at No. 91 in the standings with just six weeks until the top-70 advance to the first of three playoff events in Memphis.

Fowler is hoping that a return to the Motor City and the 2024 Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club will jumpstart a playoff run. Much like the rebirth of Detroit itself, Fowler a year ago capped off a resurgence in his game in the city with his first victory in more than four years. He sank a 12-foot birdie putt to win a three-man sudden-death playoff.

That win was his first as a father and pictures with Maya from that day always will be a treasured memento. So, too, will the photo of his reaction as his winning putt dropped. No caption necessary: the image of him, head tilted ever-so-slightly to the sky is the definition of pure relief.

2023 Rocket Mortgage Classic

Rickie Fowler and his caddie Ricky Romano react with joy after making birdie on the 18th green to win the 2023 Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club. (Photo: Kirthmon F. Dozier/USA TODAY Sports)

“I was kind of just still and quiet and everyone was going crazy around me,” Fowler said. “It was a nice moment just to kind of feel like the weight on my shoulders was finally off.”

Fowler, whose world ranking had plummeted to No. 185 and had barely qualified for the FedEx Cup Playoffs when the top 125 made it, rose to No. 22 a week after his Rocket Mortgage Classic win and went on to be chosen to the 12-man U.S. Ryder Cup team. Although the Tour no longer gives out such an award, he would have been an unanimous choice for winner of the Tour’s Comeback Player of the Year. But ever since the calendar flipped, Fowler has lost his swagger again.

He enters the week at No. 50 in the world and has recorded just two top-20s in 16 starts, including missing the cut at the Memorial and U.S. Open in June. Whereas last year he entered the Rocket Mortgage Classic with three top 10s and a top-15 finish, Fowler has no top 10s and five missed cuts in 23 starts since tasting victory a year ago.

“I’ve basically played terrible this year. Pretty simple way to sum it up,” he said. “I’ve been putting the work in but just need to stay patient and wait to see some progress.”

His ball-striking, which sparked his resurgence, has been a key reason for his decline. Last season, he ranked seventh in Strokes Gained: Approach….


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