Now that Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els and Jim Furyk have all had their 40th birthday, and Tiger Woods' image seems irreparable, the PGA Tour needs some exciting, new (and young) talent to excite audiences. Enter Rickie Fowler. The Southern California native, unmistakable in his head-to-toe Sunday orange outfit and flat-brimmed X-Games cap, had a fantastic 2010. He earned nearly $2.9 million (twice as much as Woods), notched seven top 10s (including two second places) and played like a seasoned vet down the stretch at the Ryder Cup. All of which helped him beat out fellow youngster Rory McIlroy for Rookie of the Year honors, the youngest recipient since Woods nabbed it in 1996.
But more importantly (at least for the Tour) is Fowler's quiet charisma and marketability. (Have you seen the commercials of him on his dirt bike in a sand trap?) Still, what impresses us the most is the 22-year-old's game. We asked GT Instruction Editor John Stahlschmidt to take a look at Fowler's swing (captured at last fall's Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open) and break it down. Is Fowler here to stay? Sure looks that way.
As Rickie is about to strike the ball with his driver, notice how the majority of his weight is on his left foot, and his right heel is moving off the ground. Also, notice how his hips are open to the target, but his shoulders appear almost square. This separation is common among Tour players and can be very powerful.
1. Shoulder square, hips open
2. Extended arms, rotated right hand
3. Balanced finish, hips and chest face the target
• Titleist Pro V1x
• Mitsubishi Rayon White Board Diamana 73-gram shaft
• 7.5-degree Titleist 909D2 Driver
Rickie's postimpact condition looks powerful. Look at how ex-tended both arms are. Also, his right hand has certainly rotated over his left hand. Finally, notice how Rickie still has maintained his posture. No standing up yet!!!
A classic balanced finish. Almost all his weight is on the left foot. Rickie is all the way up on his right toe. He's also facing the target with his hips and chest.
John Stahlschmidt, PGA, is the head instructor at the TOUR Academy in Scottsdale, Ariz. For more, visit touracademy.com.