The Open 2019: Why Rickie Fowler considered not wearing signature orange outfit

July 21, 2019

PORTRUSH, Northern Ireland — Rickie Fowler’s orange outfits have become known the world over. It’s his signature, but at the 2019 Open Championship, he considered leaving it in the closet.

Orange is a very politically-charged on the island of Ireland, where the Republic and Northern Ireland exist in a fragile peace after the 1998 Good Friday Agreement ended The Troubles.

The balance remains delicate, and groups like The Orange Order — a protestant fraternal order based in Northern Ireland — remain divisive, so the color is seldom worn by many on the island. And when it is, it’s usually to make a statement.

Which obviously presented a problem for Rickie Fowler. Should he wear his signature color and risk making an unintentional, divisive political statement?

Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch provides some context:

If we were at Birkdale, Rickie Fowler would have packed his iconic head-to-toe orange outfit. That’s a politically potent color in these parts. Ricky Elliott, caddie to Brooks Koepka and a Portrush native, gave Fowler a heads up on that long ago.

And if Fowler did wear it? He’d be gently laughed at by people who might assault their neighbors for wearing the same. We fight amongst ourselves. The rest of you are entertainment.

On Sunday, Fowler himself weighed in. Coming into Sunday eight-shots back, Fowler said he carefully considered whether he should wear the orange of his alma mater, Oklahoma State, but after talking with some locals, was informed he’d be in the clear.

Fowler, speaking on Saturday:

“I obviously know the history of Ireland and Northern Ireland. But a few people told me that being not a local, it doesn’t necessarily matter as much or it shouldn’t…So I’ll have traditional Sunday orange.”