There’s been a lot of talk about Rickie Fowler the last several weeks, almost all of it about how his game has been turning around.
There’s no doubt it has. Fowler has made 12 of 13 cuts this season, the only missed cut coming last October by two strokes in Las Vegas at the Shriners Childrens Open.
Fowler has a runner-up finish at the Zozo, four top-10s and nine top 25s during this 2022-23, thanks in part to ranking eighth on Tour in Strokes Gained: Approach to Green. He’s also 13th overall in Strokes Gained: Total.
He even has a hole-in-one this season. It came during the final round of the WM Phoenix Open, the site of his fifth, and last, Tour victory in 2019.
He missed the 2023 Masters after not qualifying a third year in a row. The PGA Championship marked his only major appearance last season, but then he did just enough to earn the 125th and final spot for the FedEx Cup Playoffs.
At the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Fowler got the best of the No. 2-seeded Jon Rahm on the first day, winning 2 and 1.
It was after that match when Fowler discussed the slow rebuild of his game.
“We all go through work and changes to ultimately get better. We’re not trying to get worse or stay in the same spot,” he said. “There is always going to be setbacks.”
Fowler is in the field at the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow Club, the site of his first PGA Tour win 11 years ago. He also has two T-4 finishes at the tournament.
In the latest OWGR, Fowler, who was 103rd at the end of 2021, is now ranked 59th.
But in the latest Golfweek/Sagarin rankings, he checks in at No. 15.
How the rankings work
The “mission of the OWGR is to administer and publish, on a weekly basis, a transparent, credible, and accurate Ranking based on the relative performances of players participating in male Eligible Golf Tours worldwide.”
Here’s an explainer on the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings:
Jeff Sagarin’s rating system is based on a mathematical formula that uses a player’s won-lost-tied record against other players when they play on the same course on the same day, and the stroke differential between those players, then links all players to one another based on common opponents. The ratings give an indication of who is playing well over the past 52 weeks.
Both rankings have Jon Rahm first but there are several significant differences in where some golfers are ranked in the two systems.
For example, Matt Fitzpatrick is fifth in the OWGR but 24th in the GW/Sags. Cameron Smith of the LIV Golf League, is down one spot to No. 8 in the OWGR but checks in at No. 42 in the GW/Sags.