SAN MARTIN, Calif. (AP) — Rickie Fowler came close to winning his first PGA tournament at the Frys.com Open when it was held in Scottsdale, Ariz.
He’s hoping a different site will bring a different result.
“There’s some unfinished business,” said Fowler, decked out in a purple shirt and white pants. “I think winning is the start of the process. The more I am in contention, the more comfortable I feel.”
The event is making its Northern California debut on Thursday at the CordeValle Golf Club, about 30 miles south of San Jose, Calif.
“I want to put myself in contention to have a chance to win on Sunday,” Fowler said. “The Fall Series was a big part of me getting started on the tour. It gave me the confidence.”
The colorful 21-year-old Fowler followed his impressive performance last season by finishing second twice this season, climbing to No. 33 in the rankings.
“That was my second tournament and I have to thank Frys for giving me the spot,” Fowler said. “It gave me the confidence to go to Q-School, get my card and run around the tour in 2010.”
Team Fowler even won Wednesday’s Pro-Am tournament.
Fowler began playing in tournaments at the age of 4 1/2, and spent hours hitting golf balls at the local driving range.
“I had a coach from when I was 7 through high school,” Fowler said. “Basically he sat in a chair, smoked a cigar and watched me swing. He didn’t know how to run a video camera. But he taught me how to teach myself.”
Southern California grad Jamie Lovemark, part of the three-way playoff in last year’s event, has played the course here about a dozen times during his collegiate days.
“The course has changed a little bit,” he said. “There are some new tees and the rough is longer. It’s playing a lot tougher but some of the lines and the greens are the same.”
Ricky Barnes, a Stockton, Calif., native and the 2002 U.S. Amateur champion and 2003 NCAA champion in his senior year at Arizona, said “Anywhere within about two hours of Northern California feels like home.”
Two-time major winners Lee Janzen and John Daly are also in the field.
Past winners in the current field include Cameron Beckman and defending champ Troy Matteson, who won a three-way playoff over Fowler and Lovemark.
Stanford grad Joseph Bramlett, part of the 2006 NCAA championship team, received a sponsor exemption to play. This is his second pro tournament.