HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. – Rickie Fowler’s return to the PGA Tour at last week’s Charles Schwab Challenge lasted two rounds.
His record in this week’s RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links suggests his stay here won’t last much longer.
Not that his resume of his playing days much matters to Fowler this week. Last week was last week. He flew in early from Texas and put in some extra work here at Harbour Town. And despite his record here, he holds good vibes here by the seaside. After all, he played his first PGA Tour event here in 2008 as an amateur.
He missed the cut that year. Two years later, he tied for eighth. But in 2011 and 2012 he missed the cut. He hasn’t played here since, mostly because the Masters was the week before the RBC Heritage. This year, however, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the RBC Heritage is in a perfect spot on the calendar.
“This is a special place to me here at Harbour Town,” Fowler said Tuesday after a practice round. “It’s great to be back. I love the golf course. It’s fun and different. It’s not just bombs away and find it. You’ve got to play to certain spots. The wind can play tricks around here in the trees. It’s just a fun place.”
Harbour Town is home to tight fairways, plenty of doglegs and hundreds of over-hanging trees that play mind games on sight lines and punish scores of drives and approach shots. The winds circulating above the trees adds to the puzzle, as do the smallish greens.
It’s a tough place for those making their debut. As for Fowler, he feels comfortable despite not playing here for seven years.
“It’s just a golf course that feels very tight and claustrophobic at times because in between the houses, a lot of times trees on both sides, you’re hitting through shoots and small greens with trees overhanging,” Fowler said. “You have to have an understanding where trees come into play with the shots into greens; it’s almost like a goalie sitting there at the green ready to swat your ball down.
“A lot of times when you’re on the golf course from 1 through 16, you never feel (the wind). So it may shock you as how much balls can get hurt or helped or pushed side to side because you’re down there in the trees and you don’t really feel what’s going on up there (above the trees).”
Fowler has gotten a good taste of high winds the past two days. And he’s sharpened his game since last week’s missed cut.
“I felt really good going into last week,” he said. “Unfortunately, just got a little out of sync. Didn’t drive well. Didn’t make very many putts. I was able to get some work in, and I’m feeling a lot better about where I stand going into this week.”