American Rickie Fowler getting closer to major glory

Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy holds up the Claret
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Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy holds up the Claret Jug after winning the 2014 British Open Golf Championship at Royal Liverpool Golf Course in Hoylake, north west England on July 20, 2014.(Credit: Getty Images / Andrew Yates)

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HOYLAKE, England - Rickie Fowler was the only player in the 143rd British Open to shoot four rounds in the 60s. And he didn't win.

"I tried to give Rory a little run at the end," Fowler said of Rory McIlroy, who finished two shots ahead of Fowler and Sergio Garcia. "But I just got on the gas a little too late."

An apt metaphor for someone who used to race dirt bikes in Southern California as a teenager.

Fowler, 25, who had a 5-under-par 67 Sunday, started the round at Royal Liverpool in second place, six shots back of McIlroy.

"It was a great week," Fowler said. When asked to sum up his play in two words, he blurted "Ryder Cup," because he'll make the U.S. team after this performance.

"It's hard to be disappointed about it,'' he said. "And with the way I had been playing in the majors [he tied for fifth in the Masters and tied for second in the U.S. Open], there was some pressure to play well. It doesn't feel like a big stage. It feels like I should be here.

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"Congratulations to Rory. He played awesome. And it was kind of fun to throw some shots at him coming in. To see him win was pretty cool."

Fowler, who played for Oklahoma State, and McIlroy, 25, from Northern Ireland, have been rivals and friends since they faced each other as amateurs in the 2007 Walker Cup.

This was the second time that Garcia, 34, was runner-up in the British Open. In 2007 at Carnoustie, after leading all the way, he messed up the 72nd hole, then lost a playoff to Padraig Harrington.

"Everybody looks at you as second," said Garcia, who had a final-day 66 for his 273. "And they want to make it a negative. Not at all. I felt I played well, did everything I could."

Garcia, after this British Open, is second behind Lee Westwood in major tournament appearances without a victory: 64.

"My bogey on 15 [when Garcia left a ball in one of the steep bunkers] was not nice,'' he said. "I just tried to get too cute. But I try to look at the positives.

"I think both Rickie and I tried to push Rory as hard as we could. Obviously, it's not easy when you know you can't make any mistakes."

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