News & Opinion

These FedEx flops fail to deliver

Rickie Fowler at 2020 PGA Championship at Harding Park
The book on Rickie Fowler, who failed to advance in the FedEx Cup playoffs, reads something along the lines of ‘nice guy who doesn’t win too often, and never the big one.’

Rickie Fowler completes another forgettable PGA Tour season, rating as the year’s biggest playoff disappointment, John Hawkins contends, but Mike Purkey counters that Phil Mickelson should be in Chicago this week, not wondering about his future in senior golf

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Longtime golf journalists John Hawkins and Mike Purkey, who co-host the weekly Hawk & Purk podcast on MorningRead.com, also discuss and debate the game’s hottest issues in this weekly commentary.

Which player surprised you the most by failing to qualify for the second round of the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup playoffs?

Hawk’s take: Remember that charity match three months ago at Seminole, where Rickie Fowler made 10 birdies and almost beat Rory McIlroy/Dustin Johnson by himself? Turns out it was the highlight of his season, another campaign gone bust in a career woefully lacking in memorable moments. Fowler’s streak of five consecutive trips to the Tour Championship is over, derailed by four missed cuts and nothing better than a T-12 since the mid-June restart.

We keep waiting. And waiting. Among the big names already eliminated from the postseason derby, Fowler has accomplished the least over an extended period. Perhaps he shouldn’t be considered among the game’s elite players, owing to his five PGA Tour victories in 11 seasons and current position of 36th in the Official World Golf Ranking. If potential can become life’s greatest curse, Fowler’s charmed existence has been steadily undermined by his inability to reach expectations or factor even occasionally at big tournaments.

Justin Rose had a relatively lousy year. Jordan Spieth has fallen off the map. Jason Day can’t get out of his own way, but all three of those guys are major champions. Fowler remains one of pro golf’s most glaring enigmas, a victim of hype whose 2019-20 season was by far the worst of his career. Likable? Sure. Popular? You bet. Productive? Well, uh….

Phil Mickelson at 2020 Saudi International
Phil Mickelson takes advantage of an early exit from the PGA Tour playoffs to beat up on the old guys, which didn't seem like much of a fair fight.

Purk’s take: Now that Phil Mickelson dropped in on the seniors and beat them up with a 22-under-par performance – in just three days – you have to wonder out loud why he didn’t move on to this week’s BMW Championship, the second event in the FedEx Cup playoffs.

Obviously, he’s playing well – out of his mind well, in fact, with a 10-under 61 in Monday’s first round of the Champions Tour’s Charles Schwab Series. Why he couldn’t conjure up at least some of that golf last week at the Northern Trust is anyone’s guess.

After tying for second at the WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational, Mickelson was inside the top 70 on the points list, which was the number needed to get to the BMW Championship. Even after a poor showing at the PGA Championship, he still was inside the number. All he had to do was make the cut at the Northern Trust and he was bound to be all right.

But with rounds of 74-68, he was out and decided to play in the Champions Tour event. He told Golf Channel’s Billy Ray Brown after the Monday 61 that he was playing great at home but came out and “played tight” at the Northern Trust.

He showed no signs of tightness on the Champions Tour; in fact, it was quite the opposite. It makes you wonder – out loud – whether that’s not where he belongs.

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