(Reuters) – World number eight Rickie Fowler hopes to use this week’s St. Jude Classic to fine-tune his game heading into the U.S. Open.
While most of the competitors in the year’s second major in Wisconsin are taking this week off to hone their swings at home, Fowler is among 32 players in the St. Jude field who have qualified to play in Erin Hills next week.
“I like playing the week before majors,” the popular American told reporters at TPC Southwind on Wednesday.
“It allows me to see where the game’s at, what I need to work on, what needs to be tightened up.
“(I prefer to be) able to do that through the week here and minimize what I’m trying to do Monday through Wednesday the week of a major.
“Ultimately I want to be in contention here but part of that is making sure the game is in a good spot.”
Fowler is coming off a near-miss at the Memorial tournament on Sunday, where he stood in the final fairway thinking a birdie would probably be good enough to get into a playoff with eventual winner Jason Dufner.
But he pulled his approach shot into thick rough for a closing bogey and instead finished tied for second.
It was yet another close call for the ever-polite Fowler, 28, who has four PGA Tour victories to go with 10 second-placings. He also has won twice on the European Tour and once in Europe.
Fowler said he had not played to his full potential at the Memorial, and took solace from being in contention without his best stuff.
“Last week I did a good job of scoring. Didn’t have my best at times and was able to still get it around,” he said.
Joining Fowler in a pretty good field this week are Australian former world number one Adam Scott and defending champion Daniel Berger.
Five-times major winner Phil Mickelson is also playing, before skipping the U.S. Open to attend his daughter’s high school graduation, barring a last-minute switch in the schedule for the ceremony.
Mickelson said he enjoyed playing at TPC Southwind.
“It’s so fun to play, has such great subtlety and nuance,” Mickelson said. “It’s not the most visually spectacular course with beautiful waterfalls and all that stuff but it’s one of the best playing courses we have on tour.
“It has become one of my favorite courses.”
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina, editing by Pritha Sarkar)