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Fowler Didn't Need a Shortcut

The Times' boys' golfer of the year turned around his season with a vow that he would reach his benchmark scores or submit to a haircut.

June 27, 2005|Peter Yoon | Times Staff Writer

Rickie Fowler still has his long, stringy brown hair, so that means it must have been a pretty good year.

Fowler made a bet with his Murrieta Valley golf teammates about one-third of the way into the season: If he shot higher than 38 for nine holes or more than 76 for 18 holes, they could shave his trademark mop.

"I started the season pretty bad," Fowler said. "So one day I walked off the course and made that bet."

It worked. Fowler averaged 34.5 over his last 15 nine-hole matches and didn't shoot over 37. In 18-hole matches, he shot par or better in all but one. He turned it up for the postseason, when he averaged 69.8 and was the only Southland player to participate in all six postseason events.

He set a Southern Section record with a 64 at Canyon Country Club in the section individual finals, shot 71 at the PGA of Southern California Golf Club as Murrieta Valley won the section team title and tied for third with a 68 at the SCGA Golf Course in the Southern California regional.

At the state championships, he overcame stomach flu and a front-nine 39 at Poppy Hills Golf Course, shot 72, tied for sixth, and led his team to a second-place finish.

"I think I had a pretty good season," said Fowler, The Times' boys' golfer of the year, who set a Southern California regional record last season with a 62. "I played better than last year. I felt more in control."

Fowler could have easily focused on himself after teammate Josh Anderson broke his arm and was lost for the remainder of the postseason after the Nighthawks won the section team title, but he concentrated on the team.

Even as he battled nausea during the state finals, he said he knew the team would need his score and he hoped to "post a decent number." Murrieta Valley finished nine shots out of first, but only three shots ahead of fifth-place San Jose Bellarmine Prep.

"Everything you hear about Rickie Fowler as a golfer is nothing compared to what he is as a person," Murrieta Valley Coach Greg Ireland said after the state championships. "He played as sick as could be and gutted it out for the team, and we got second. That says all you need to know about the kind of kid he is."

Statistics indicate that he never came close to losing that bet he made, but there was one close call. At the Central individual regional tournament, he shot 75 for 18 holes.

Fowler was unclear if it would have counted in the bet since it was an individual tournament, but he really wasn't losing any sleep over it. Or anything else.

"At the end of the season, my hair was still there," he said.

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