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Rickie Fowler is one of the most popular golfers worldwide and received huge support after his final round agony at the US Open.
Fowler shared the overnight lead with Wyndham Clark, but collapsed on Sunday with a five-over 75 to finish well short of his playing partner, who nervelessly fought off a challenge from Rory McIlroy to become champion.
There was huge frustration for Fowler’s army of fans as he came up short at the Los Angeles Country Club.
Many will point to his short miss on the 18th green on Saturday as he relinquished the solo lead as a decisive factor in his slip over the weekend.
But the overriding feeling as the dust settles on an unusual US Open is that Fowler is back.
The resurgent American was world No. 145 and first alternate for last year’s national championship but is now back at No. 35 and has a serious shot of making Zach Johnson’s US Ryder Cup team in Rome.
His return to the public consciousness near the top of a major leaderboard has been well received by golf fans who have witnessed his years of struggle.
That, however, was not the opinion of US shock merchant Skip Bayless, who cannot comprehend the widespread appeal in the success of Fowler.
Bayless, a divisive American TV personality with over 3 million followers on Twitter, was unsure why Fowler endears himself to so many supporters worldwide.
Rickie Fowler, leader through 3 rds, comes up small again, failing to close deal on 1st major. I'm sorry, but I've never understood how Rickie Fowler became golf's most popular player w the most TV ads. Kids can better relate to him bc he's smaller? Not charismatic. Don't get it.
— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) June 19, 2023
“Rickie Fowler, leader through 3 rds, comes up small again, failing to close deal on 1st major,” he tweeted.
“I’m sorry, but I’ve never understood how Rickie Fowler became golf’s most popular player w the most TV ads. Kids can better relate to him bc he’s smaller? Not charismatic. Don’t get it.”
Fowler showed his class on the 18th green as he congratulated Clark on his maiden major victory. “Your mom was with you. She’d be very proud,” he told Clark, who dedicated his victory to his late mother Lise.
He was also lauded as the people’s champ after signing autographs in the dark after his late finish on Saturday.
And it was unsurprising that Bayless’s tweet was met with condemnation on social media.
PGA Tour pro Greg Chalmers wrote: “Don’t they play this just down the rd from your house?can’t believe you missed that opportunity again.” His retort included two clown emojis.
Bayless was described as a “hater” by several others, while one pointed to his “god awful take.”
There was also a fair amount of irony as Bayless later admitted in another tweet that he wouldn’t make a one-foot putt in Clark’s position to win the tournament the 72nd hole.
“Man, I would not want to have to make a one-foot putt to win the USOpen,” he wrote. I’ve missed too many of ’em.
“If I had to wait a couple of minutes while my playing partner putted out, as Wyndham Clark just did, I just might think myself into oblivion. “
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