It marked the first time he failed to qualify for the Masters and the U.S. Open since his rookie season in 2010. Additionally, this season is the first in his career in which he didn’t record multiple top-10 finishes on Tour.
And now, barring a strong performance at this weekend’s Wyndham Championship, it could be the first year Fowler misses out on the FedEx Cup playoffs since he turned pro.
Rickie Fowler is on the outside looking in on the FedEx Cup playoffs
The 2021 PGA Tour season is quickly coming to a close, and the field for the FedEx Cup playoffs is starting to take shape. This weekend’s Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield Country Club marks the final stop of the regular season.
After the Wyndham wraps up on Sunday, the top 125 in the FedEx Cup standings will move on to the postseason. That isn’t good news for Fowler, who currently sits in the 130th spot after a disappointing season from start to finish.
In 23 events played this season, Fowler has missed eight cuts and recorded just five top-25 finishes. He’s only finished inside the top 10 once, which is the lowest mark of his entire career for a single season.
The biggest reason for Fowler’s regression this year might be his uncharacteristic struggles with the putter. After ranking 13th on Tour in Strokes Gained: Putting in 2019, he fell to 60th in 2020. This season? He ranks 131st. It’s the first season since 2012 that Fowler has lost strokes putting over the course of an entire season. For a guy who was considered the best putter in the world just a few years ago, it’s been puzzling to watch his flat stick fall off the face of the earth.
Fowler’s career-worst season has already cost him a chance to compete in the Masters and the U.S. Open, and it might also cost him a spot in the playoffs.
Fowler has one last chance to salvage his 2021 season
Fowler has gone through his fair share of struggles over the years. Every professional golfer has. But we haven’t seen him play this poorly on a consistent basis since he turned pro in 2010. The Oklahoma State product is now ranked 106th in the Official World Golf Ranking, which is the worst ranking he’s held since his rookie year.
He also ranks 130th in the FedEx Cup standings this season. With just one more tournament left in the regular season, Fowler has a 39.1% chance to squeak into the top 125, according to PGA Tour.
Fowler will likely need a finish of 21st or better in the Wyndham Championship this weekend to crack the 2021 playoff field. But with just four top-21 finishes in 23 starts this season, his chances aren’t looking too good.
Missing the FedEx Cup playoffs could be the beginning of the end for Fowler
If Fowler misses out on the FedEx Cup playoffs this season, it’ll be the first time in his pro career that he’ll fail to qualify for the postseason. Why is that such a big deal?
Let us explain.
The final FedEx Cup standings determine who earns a PGA Tour card for the following season. More specifically, the top 125 in the standings after the Wyndham Championship will earn an exemption for the entirety of the 2022 PGA Tour season. Players ranked outside the top 125 by season’s end will lose their Tour card unless they have a previous exemption available to use.
Luckily for Fowler, he’s fully exempt for the 2022 season because of his 2015 Players Championship win. However, that exemption runs out in 2023. If he fails to qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs next season, he’ll be in danger of losing his full-time status on the PGA Tour.
And if his recent play is any indication, that’s a real possibility for the 32-year-old next year.