Spike Lee once said it about MJ in an Air Jordan ad and maybe the same can be said about Rickie Fowler after he won the HSBC Golf Championship in Abu Dhabi this weekend in his new High Top Pumas. Winning for the fourth time in nine months against top ranked fields, including The Players, The Scottish Open, and the Deutsche Bank Championship in the Fed Ex Playoffs, Rickie broke fashion molds once again and a few personal glass ceilings as he makes a case for being considered the fourth of the new Big Three.
No one else would have the chutzpah to wear these…..
Abu Dhabi’s deep pockets and appearance fees guarantee a solid field every year. Four of the top six players in the World Golf Rankings were not only there but finished in the top six at the end of the day on Sunday-the royal family got their money’s worth. At some time over the four days Henrik Stenson, Jordan Spieth, and Rory McIlroy were in and around the lead so the cream did rise to the top. But it was Fowler who added the final froth when he shot 65 on Saturday to take the lead and then stared down all pursuers on Sunday posting a fine 69 to finish 16-under to take home the flashy Falcon Trophy.
Rickie has a bit of a Ray Floyd stare that has his peers taking notice
Fowler started his day with a couple of birdies then seemed in cruise control with the lead until he had a double bogey hiccup on the Par 3 7th to squander his advantage. But he had a very unlikely bounce back eagle to regain his position at 15-under on the following hole when he holed from the sand at about 50 paces.
The long bunker shot….hardest play in the game….Rickie made it look easy….
Making eight pars in a row he had a two shot cushion most of the back nine. But Henrik Stenson, Rory McIlroy, and Thomas Pieters would not go away. Stenson birdied three of the last four to take the club house lead at 14-under. Rory had been playing with indifference through the front nine. But then Rory did what Rory does, he kicked it into gear and shot 31 on the inward half with a spine tingling eagle on the final hole to tie Stenson at 14-under.
The gauntlet went down when the crowd eruption from Rory’s eagle reached the Par 4 17th green where Fowler was sizing up his third shot just off the putting surface. As we saw at The Players Rickie saves his best for last and responded to the challenge by chipping it in for birdie to extend his lead again to two at 16-under.
Thomas Pieters, a young phenom who has won twice in the last year on the European Tour, was playing along side Rickie in the final group. He made four birdies through the 13th hole to get to 14-under but seemed to stall. After Rickie’s heroics on 17 his only chance was an eagle on the last as Rory had done. A solid drive and an elegant fairway metal to about 25 feet kept hope alive for a playoff but his eagle putt deflected off the force field of the cup and he settled for a birdie and second alone at 15-under.
Rickie and his new pet-the hosting Shiek and his closest pursuer look on
As Spieth did the previous week winning against a solid field at the Tournament of Champions in Kapalua, Rickie dominated the five pars at 9-under par. His solid approach play and putting led to 19 birdies and 1 eagle on his way to his winning tally at 16-under par. If he can win a major or an Olympic Gold Medal in the next seven months Jordan, Rory, and Jason will have to make some room for Rickie’s trend setting look in the photo ops of the Big Whatever.
They may not be available on-line yet but I guarantee those Puma High Tops will be displayed prominently at the Puma/Cobra booth at this week’s annual PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando. The lines will be long at the show, this is a look the millennials can put their arms around.