PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — There were two Rickie Fowlers at TPC Sawgrass this afternoon: The style icon and the 2010 Rookie of the Year who is trying to win for the first time on the PGA Tour.
One Rickie, wearing an all-pink ensemble trimmed in neon-green, made teenage girls lining the fairways squeal things like, "I love your outfit Rickie. You're so cute!"
The other Rickie, the golfer who proved his mettle in Walker Cup matches as an amateur and last fall in the Ryder Cup, said he's going to have to hit more fairways this week. Stray drives have led to fewer greens in regulation, which in turn makes it harder to make birdies. It’s a formula that's about as basic as it gets.
When it comes to golf equipment, Fowler's bag is filled with clubs that make both Rickies smile.
"This is my second set of [Titleist] 710 MBs," he said walking down the 10th fairway Wednesday. "I do like to put in the orange paint fill and kind of splash 'em up a little bit. Make 'em different. I started doing that in high school and at Oklahoma State. Some of the guys would do it for fun when we had a little bit of free time."
Fowler also has orange paint fill accents on his wedges and hybrids. He has also used custom-painted Mitsubishi Diamana White Board driver shafts; a few even had Oklahoma State Cowboy mascots embossed near the handle.
But the clubs themselves, and his set makeup, are utilitarian by design. Fowler wants the versatility to play any shot on any course.
"If I'm going to the British Open I don't want to have to change clubs around," he said. "I don't want to change my driver by a degree if it's windy or if I want to hit a lower ball so it will run. You know, I just kinda want to work the ball and be able to do more than one thing with one club."
Fowler said his driver, an 8.5° Titleist 910D3 set to the D1 position, was the most challenging club to get just right. He played a 909D3 for more than two years, and tinkered with a 910 when they were first brought to the PGA Tour last summer, but developing confidence in the club simply took time.
"I played a few 910D2 heads last year, but I've been in the 910D3 since last November," he said. "I messed around with some 7.5° heads and then at the Honda [in March] I went to an 8.5° head."
Fowler said that with the 7.5° head he missed too many shots to the right and that his drives flew too low. "By going with an 8.5° I was able to spin the ball a little more and shots seemed to hold their flight a little bit better. I can also work it a little bit more, whereas with the 7.5°, if I wanted to hit a ball up in the air I had to really help it up."
If the two Rickies can get cozy with that driver, Fowler could contend here at The Players and create a potent blend substance and style. See-Try-Buy: Learn more about Titleist clubs, and schedule your fitting with GolfTEC. Related: Follow David Dusek on Twitter | Facebook