It started as a whisper and slowly turned into a roar. More than two years had passed, and Rickie Fowler was still missing an important item on his golf resume: a PGA Tour win.
Everyone wanted to know when he was finally going to break through, but the longer the 23-year-old went without a win, the louder the questions got about his inability to close on the weekends.
When you're 23 years old, you feel like you have your entire life ahead of you. However, Fowler never had that luxury when he joined the PGA Tour. Following his first season, in 2010, that culminated with Rookie of the Year honors, fans' expectations hit an all-time high for the kid with the color-wheel clothing line.
Everyone assumed he'd pick up wins in bunches, but it seemed like every time Fowler got remotely close to the lead on the weekend with a chance to pick up his maiden tour win, everything fell apart.
The first couple of times it happened, it was chalked up to young nerves. But the more Fowler continued to struggle and the winless streak persisted, the more people started to question when Fowler would finally find the gear needed to close things out.
On Sunday at Quail Hollow, we finally got our answer as Fowler stared down some heady competition by stuffing his approach to five feet on the first playoff hole, before rolling in the birdie putt to capture his first PGA Tour win at the Wells Fargo Championship.
Winning the first one is always the toughest thing to do — especially when you've been in the position countless times before and failed to seal the deal. But with the hard part now behind him, we now get a chance to see what Fowler's really made of.
Is he a one-hit wonder, or is this the start of a special career? That's what everyone wants to know. For the longest time people wanted to peg the 23-year-old as the poster child of the youth movement in golf, but without a meaningful win on his resume, it felt like a baseless title.
That's no longer the case. Picking up the first victory on one of the toughest tracks on the PGA Tour will certainly legitimize things, as will staring down Rory McIlroy (who picked up a career-defining win of his own at Quail Hollow in 2010) in a playoff.
His win at the Wells Fargo Championship won't define his career, but if there was one guy on tour that needed a win in the worst possible way, it was Rickie Fowler. With a major hurdle out of the way, it's time to see what he can do with some momentum and a boatload of confidence.
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