COLUMBUS, Ohio – Rickie Fowler came up just short — one roll of the ball — in his last shot at avoiding sitting out another major when he failed to get through U.S. Open qualifying on Tuesday.
Fowler had five holes to play Tuesday morning in the rain-delayed qualifier at Brookside and The Lakes, and he needed three birdies. From over the back of the 18th green, his chip was about a full turn short before peeling away to the right.
That left him one shot out of the 5-for-4 playoff for the remaining spots to the U.S. Open next week at Torrey Pines in San Diego.
Chez Reavie and Erik van Rooyen of South Africa led the way in Ohio, the largest of nine U.S. Open qualifiers across the country because of so many PGA Tour players in the field.
A pair of Walker Cup players from Texas, Cole Hammer and Pierceson Coody, were part of the five-way playoff. Hammer was the odd man out, making bogey on the second extra hole to be first alternate.
Fowler, who shot 66, stuck around The Lakes to take part in a 12-man playoff for one spot to determine who would be the second alternate from Ohio, even though that player was virtually certain not to get into the U.S. Open.
Former major champions Padraig Harrington, Keegan Bradley and Jason Dufner were among those who joined Fowler at 5-under 139, one stroke short.
The California qualifier also went to a Tuesday finish for five players. Rikuya Hoshino, who has won twice on the Japan Golf Tour in the last two months, was among those who made it. Justin Suh, a former All-American at USC, made it after a 4-for-2 playoff.
Fowler has not missed the U.S. Open since 2010 and had to go through 36-hole qualifying because of his plunge down the world ranking, well beyond the top 60 in the world who were exempt from qualifying.
He started poorly at Brookside with a 1-over 73, leaving him in need of a low one at The Lakes. This will be the second major Fowler misses this year following the Masters after having played in every one starting with the British Open at St. Andrews in 2010.
“I'm obviously disappointed. I should have made it outright fairly easily,” Fowler said. “Not playing that well (at Brookside) and to be close to a spot is a bummer. But I love where my game is at and where's going. Looking at the big picture, there's a lot of good things ahead.”
He returned Tuesday morning and tugged a 7-iron on the par-3 14th, but then he holed a 40-foot birdie putt. Fowler hit wedge to 12 feet on No. 15 and narrowly missed the birdie. His 7-iron to 15 feet on the par-5 16th gave him a good look at eagle, which he missed.
He also missed from 15 feet for birdie on the 17th, all those putts snapping off hard at the hole. On the 18th, Fowler caught a flyer lie over the green. His pitch landed softly and was headed for the cup for birdie when it came up short.
“Another roll and it probably would have gone in,” he said.
He played alongside Coody, the grandson of former Masters champion Charles Coody. He was tied with Fowler when his approach to the 18th was 3 feet short of the hole, giving him a birdie to get into the playoff.
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