Monday, May 7, 2012

GOLF: Rickie - So Fine It's Scary

Rickie - So Fine It's Scary

Winning Smile
True... I've gone from covering the PGA TOUR to the LPGA... but it doesn't mean I've forgotten.  Like many golf fans I tuned in on Sunday to watch the final round of the Wells Fargo. I had a rooting interest in Rory McIlory because he's just a classy young man with great skill and the best golf swing this side of Hogan.  Also, D.A. Points as we go back to days covering the Canadian Tour on the Golf Channel as he was a rising talent and I was out to get more play-by-play experience.  He's a Windermere, Florida kid now - who's not not exactly rooting for the Gators.  Nope, he's all ILLINI... though you wouldn't have known it in the costume the wore Sunday afternoon.  Rickie Fowler on the other hand?  No questions... Okie State.  All orange all the way to the shoes and on this particular Sunday it worked.

Truth be told, I've followed Fowler for a few years - much because of a tie-in with his agent group at Wasserman Media Group.  They have a television branch and they have a golf division - and for good reason the golf division gets more attention that the media division.  Trust you get my point.  But I'll add this... Fowler has been handled well by a terrific team that really doesn't need to do much handling.

Since he got on tour... the only real criticism's have been over a lay-up shot he chose over the gambler-go-for-it attitude that most folks see as the norm, and an occasional hat-on-backwards in the clubhouse or in front of dignitaries.  But he's learned on both accounts... and he's got a few million young women and boys who would come to his defense if he really needed it.  Sunday in Charlotte, there was nothing to question.  Playoff perfect - he pumped a big drive, hit a marvelous wedge and holed a birdie putt on the 18th hole to claim his first win.  And its not like nobody thought it wasn't coming!

2011 - Fowler Answers Questions with A Keen Eye on Audience
Truth be told, I first met Rickie while he was a college student at Oklahoma State.  Stuck in the back corner as I was conducting a media training session for the Oklahoma State golf teams.  This was pre- HTK Media where I now have a platform to help athletes become better "salesmen" of their own brand.  He was talented and shy... but you could just tell that he was put together in all the right ways.  Personality stood out to me, golf game came on reputation.
He knows how to work a room

Finding his way on the PGA TOUR, I always found him a perfect young gentleman, respectful of the game and the folks that cover it.  Adored by the fans and a guy who gives them everything he's got.  I was - like most who covered the game - interested in seeing him compete at the highest level.  And while he came out like a house on fire... he never seemed to lose his composure.  In the fall series with a chance to win.... at Colonial with a chance to break 60... both opportunities didn't work out.  But he never shied away from the hype or the big picture.

At the Zurich Classic in 2011, I served up a heavy dose of Fowler to the folks in corporate hospitality.  To say they were engaged would be an understatement.  To say he was engaged would be correct.  The kid knows how to have fun. The kid certainly knows how to play.  And he certainly knows how to showcase his brand and his message.  Rickie is smart... a guy who surrounded himself with a good team of agents and friends... and who hasn't steered from what put him in the spotlight in the first place.  Spend 18 holes watching him as a fan and you can't help but fall in love with the game just a little bit more.  Spend 10-15 minutes with him off the course and I guarantee you'll spread the word and send more fans to his tee or fairway.  Understated personality, big statement game - and just the right dose of flair and marketing savvy.

I wish him the best.... now that he's got his first win on the PGA TOUR, I'm ready for the floodgates to open.  In a way, the fact that Tiger left town and left the door open for the likes of McIroy and Fowler was a nice television blessing.  I'm guessing the ratings will prove it.  What are your thoughts???  Always have an open ear and thanks for reading!