LOUISVILLE, Ky. - For Rickie Fowler, it is a distinction, an honor and a heartache. He completed the Rickie Slam on Sunday, finishing in the top five in each of the four majors.
"This is kind of the first one that hurts," he said after tying for third in the PGA Championship at 14 under par, two behind winner Rory McIlroy.
It followed Fowler's tie for fifth at the Masters and tie for second at both the U.S. and British Opens. He played in the final group in the latter two. On Sunday, he was in the next-to-last group with Phil Mickelson and looked like he was on top of the world.
Fowler was on his game, rebounding from his bogey on No. 2 with birdies on the next three holes to go ahead of the field. At one point, he was three shots ahead of McIlroy, his friend since amateur days.
"The first three [majors] were a lot of fun, to be in great positions and to get great finishes," he said. "This one, I felt like I could go out today and win it. I put myself in a good position. The back nine wasn't what I was wanting."
Fowler looked poised and comfortable with Mickelson, his fellow Butch Harmon student and regular Tuesday practice partner. Twice when Mickelson made a putt to tie him for first, Fowler gave the older player a fist bump, a sign of confidence in his own game.
But after playing the front nine in 3 under, he played the back nine in par. It wasn't enough for the 25-year-old Californian who has evolved from a flashy-dressing phenom to a solid, consistent contender.
He was good enough to leave with one overwhelming feeling. "The sting," he said. "Like I said, I really felt like I could win this one. I'm disappointed to come up short, but to look back on the full year and all four majors, it's definitely something to be proud of."