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Rickie ready to end streak of stumbles at summit

China Daily | Updated: 2019-04-10 09:02
Rickie Fowler hits off the second tee during practice for the 2019 Masters golf tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, USA, April 8, 2019. [Photo/Agencies]

AUGUSTA, Georgia - Rickie Fowler, eight times a top-five major finisher without tasting victory, 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 winless skid.

"I'm more ready than I've ever been," Fowler said on Monday.

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

World No 9 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 had previously accomplished.

But unlike those stars, Fowler couldn't claim a victory, sharing 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 winner Patrick Reed over Augusta National's back nine in a dramatic bid for the green jacket.

Fowler made birdies on six of the last 11 holes to challenge Reed after starting the day five strokes back, and pulled to within one shot after closing with a birdie. But Reed drained a five-footer for par on 17 and a four-footer at 18 to seal his 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 winning in 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 staid Augusta customs by wearing his cap backwards while 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.

"I definitely feel good about my game," he said.

"I was able to check a lot of boxes leading into this week and make sure everything is either where I want it or figure out the few things I want to work on."

Agence France-Presse

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