Big interview: Rickie Fowler on his love affair with Gullane

Rickie Fowler
Rickie Fowler
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Rickie Fowler reckons he should become a “part-time resident in Gullane” after being made to feel like a local since winning the Scottish Open in the East Lothian town in 2015.

The American ace is back on Scotland’s Golf Coast this week to try and repeat that triumph in the Aberdeen Standard Investments-sponsored event.

And he was blown away to discover that, on the back of his success three years ago, there’s now a ‘Rickie’s Bar’ in the main Gullane clubhouse.

Having gifted it to the club, the Cobra driver he used in 2015 is on display on the main wall under a photograph of Fowler with the magnificent trophy.

Fowler, the world No.7, paid a visit before teeing off in the pro-am and delighted some of the Gullane juniors by signing hats for the starstruck youngsters.

“It’s pretty cool to feel as welcome as we do in Scotland, especially at places like this where we’ve won,” admitted the 29-year-old Californian earlier in his pre-event press conference.

“To be taken in and felt like a local after we won and now to have the bar named after us, I should just get a place and become semi-part-time resident here in Gullane.”

Fowler arrived in East Lothian on Monday and headed straight out on to the West Links for a game with his caddie, Joe Skovron, and his agent, Sam MacNaughton.

“It’s a fun, old-school course,” he said of that experience. “It’s not necessarily very long, but it would be fun to play it on a windy day. It could create some definite challenges.

“We had people following us over at North Berwick, just a handful of them, but they were very respectful. They just followed us around and watched.

“They were not getting in the way or trying to bother you or anything like that. Took a couple pictures afterwards, but they enjoy their golf.

“I feel like the Scottish people and culture is very respectful and very welcoming, and they are definitely die-hard golfers. They love their golf.”

It was a poignant visit for Fowler, who added: “My coach, Barry McDonnell, that I grew up playing or learning the game from, his grandfather was the head pro there. So there’s a little bit of a connection there, and it was nice to finally get over there and go play North Berwick.”

Having now turned his attention to tackling Gullane, Fowler is hoping to take up where he left off when making three birdies in the last four holes in 2015 to win by a shot from compatriot Matt Kuchar and Frenchman Raphael Jacquelin.

The last of those was set up by a brilliant wedge to within a few inches and his lights still light up when he recalls that title-winning blow.

“I definitely enjoyed this golf course from the first time I played it,” he said. “It’s a fairly straightforward, links golf course. Not many blind shots. It’s kind of right in front of you and I feel like we’ve got a good variety of conditions last time.

“We had a couple days where it blew pretty good and definitely remember the stretch I had coming in to get myself back in it and win it with a birdie at the last.

“It’s always nice to finish with a birdie to make birdie at the last to win, yeah, it’s hard to beat that feeling. Maybe if you hole out, I guess.

Can he win again here? “I love playing links golf. I feel like it tends to bring the best out of me and I feel like I hit a lot more solid golf shots because I’m kind of focused on where I want to start the ball and how I want the ball to flight,” he said.