CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Rickie Fowler didn’t earn an invitation to the Masters this year, his prolonged struggles inside the ropes leading to his absence from Augusta National for the first time in 11 years.
But he didn’t miss the Masters altogether.
Fowler’s disappointment in missing his first major championship since the 2010 U.S. Open was tempered a bit when he watched the first round of the first major of the year with five-time Masters champion Tiger Woods, who was housebound in Florida recovering from multiple right leg injuries sustained in a single-car crash in the Los Angeles area in February.
“Between (the Masters) and the British Open, those are two tournaments that I love to watch. Typically I’m in them and I’m watching either the morning or afternoon wave when I’m not playing, so it was a little different in that sort being at home,” Fowler said Thursday after shooting a 1-under-par 70 in the first round of the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow.
“I did go over and watch a little bit with Tiger, so it was fun to be able to do that, talk about the course. We were watching and saw just how firm and fast and kind of such a fine line how Augusta can be. We were definitely both very disappointed that we couldn’t be out there to experience it because it’s very few times where you do get to see Augusta that firm and fast.”
Fowler said Woods was in good spirits. Justin Thomas had been over to Woods’ palatial estate a few times and told Fowler that Woods was doing fine.
“He’s like, honestly, he was a lot better than I expected,” Fowler said. “So that was good to hear. Then to get over there and see him getting around, and now you guys have seen some pictures that he’s posted and he’s out and about a little bit, he was in good spirits. Because early on it was more him having to keep his leg up for inflammation, couldn’t be walking around on crutches that much, although I’m sure he wanted to because he didn’t want to just be laid up.
“It was good to see him. Hung out and spent some time with (Woods’ son) Charlie, and (daughter) Sam was there for a little bit before she had to go to soccer practice. I think his main focus and concern is getting back to being a dad, go play golf with Charlie, push him around, and be able to run around with Sam. But his golf clubs are right there in the living room and he can stare at them all he wants.”
Fowler values his friendship with Woods. Fowler grew up watching Woods dominate the game, especially in the 1997 Masters and then the early 2000s. He watched Woods win the 2008 U.S. Open on a broken leg. And so many more. And then Fowler started playing against Woods starting in 2009.
“Someone that we’ve all looked up to,” Fowler said. “Whether you’re younger, older, whatever, just to see what he was able to accomplish, especially through those early 2000s, even after coming back from different injuries, winning on a broken leg to coming back after a big layoff and winning the (2019) Masters. We all pull for him.
“Getting to be around him, be around him on a bit more of a personal level and getting to know him, especially over the last really five, six years, you know, we try and push him as hard as we can, but at the same time it’s still pretty cool to get to go hang out and spend time with Tiger.”
original article link https://golfweek.usatoday.com/2021/05/06/rickie-fowler-watched-first-round-masters-tiger-woods/