Rickie Fowler is known for making headlines for his sartorial savvy, but this week he’s donning an accessory that’s extra special.
For the first three rounds of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, Fowler has been wearing a photo of a young boy on his hat. That boy is Griffin Connell, Fowler’s 7-year-old superfan who was born with a rare complex airway disorder and passed away on Jan. 23.
“I met him, I can’t remember if it was five or six years ago here [at the Waste Management Phoenix Open],” Fowler said. “He was probably 2 or 3 at the time. But he was just a huge fan of the game. I claim him as being my No. 1 fan, so he had a special place with me and [caddie] Joe [Skovron]. We looked forward to seeing him and the family every week out here at the tournament every year.”
Connell’s public Twitter timeline is filled with shoutouts and notes of encouragement for both Fowler and Skovron.
“Even if it I hit a bad shot out there the past years you would look over and see him, he was just pumped and excited to be out there watching us,” Fowler said. “And it just puts things into perspective. He could care less if I played well or bad, he was always supporting us. It just kind of humbles you, grounds you a bit, and makes you realize that there’s a lot bigger things than just playing golf.”
Earlier this week, Fowler posted a touching Instagram message memorializing Connell.
If Fowler wins the Waste Management Phoenix Open on Sunday, it will be his fifth career Tour win, but his first at TPC Scottsdale, after having several close calls over the past eight years. One thing is for sure: win or lose, there will be cheering from above.