MEMPHIS — After missing the cut last Friday at the Wyndham Championship, Rickie Fowler knew his hopes of making the FedEx Cup Playoffs sat on a knife’s edge. He also knew there was no longer anything he could do about it—after missing the playoffs for the first time in his career last season, finishing 134th in the standings, he nearly duplicated the effort a year later. This time, though, the defection of LIV golfers elevated him in the standings and gave him a chance to reach the magic number.
On Sunday, as the contenders battled it out in Greensboro, Fowler did his best to distract himself, playing a friendly round with a local pro at the Grove XXIII in Hobe Sound, Fla., and occasionally checking his status on the PGA Tour app. By the time he got home and the dust had settled in Greensboro, he had made the playoffs on the number: 125.
His week was about to get more eventful, and not just because he was heading to Memphis for the FedEx St. Jude Championship instead of starting his offseason early. On Tuesday, news came out that he parted ways with his caddie Joe Skovron, who had been on Fowler’s bag since the start of his professional career in 2009. Calling it a “team decision,” Fowler turned to Cobra Golf employee Ben Schomin as a temporary fill-in.
The very early returns are in, and the verdict is, “so far, so good.” On a humid day in Memphis, Fowler shot 65, his best round by raw score since last October. At five under, he’s currently tied for fifth with a large group, and trailing leaders Si Woo Kim and J.J. Spaun by three strokes. When asked if the caddie change made any immediate difference, though, he demurred.
“It was going to be more about me taking ownership and putting more of a workload on myself and more accountability,” Fowler said. “I still had plenty of his voice and one-liners and stuff in my head, so he [Skovron] wasn’t on the bag, but he was definitely present.”
The highlight of Fowler’s round came on the par-5 16th hole, when he hit his second shot from 220 yards to within five feet and converted the eagle.