ERIN, Wisconsin (Reuters) - Rickie Fowler might be ready to heed coach Butch Harmon’s words by finally backing up his social media status with a major championship victory at the U.S. Open.
Harmon says he told Fowler to decide whether he wanted to be a golf pro or a celebrity.
“We had a big conversation at the end of the year and he didn’t like it,” Harmon said recently on Sky Sports, where he works as an analyst during golf tournaments.
“I said ‘you gotta decide are you going to be Kardashian or are you going to be golf pro? You’re the kind of social media, you’re all over these snapchats and all these things’.”
Fowler, without a major victory yet, evidently took Harmon’s tough love the right way, not that he has exactly disappeared from social media either this year.
But he has also let his clubs do the talking with a win, a second and a third already on the PGA Tour, and will try to do so again on Friday when he takes a one-stroke lead into the second round at Erin Hills.
A long way back, defending champion Dustin Johnson, world number two Rory McIlroy and number three Jason Day will need to conjure up some magic simply to make the halfway cut, which looks like falling at around one-over.
This means Johnson, after an opening three-over 75, requires a good second round to stay alive, while McIlroy and Day are in need of a minor miracle.
McIlroy and Day spent so much time in the fescue on Thursday they probably had to check for ticks afterwards, the Northern Irishman running up a 78, Day a 79.
McIlroy is in danger of missing the U.S. Open cut for the second time in a row, while for Australian Day it would be his first missed cut after top-10 finishes the past four years.
But if there is a silver lining, both players have early tee times, usually more favourable for low scoring.
Erin Hills is likely to yield plenty of birdies again for the second round as nothing more than a light breeze is expected. But with only an outside chance of rain forecast, the course is likely to dry out and perhaps start to show some fire.
The first round proved that the long fescue rough can severely punish an errant drive but keep it on the fairway, and the green light is often turned on for an aggressive approach and a good birdie chance.
Editing by John O'Brien