Rickie Fowler stands out in 2016 Rio Olympics

FRUITLAND, N.M.

Submitted Diné golfer Ricky Fowler is scheduled to tee off on Thursday morning during the first round of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. The 27-year-old is ranked No. 8 in the world.

Submitted
Diné golfer Ricky Fowler is scheduled to tee off on Thursday morning during the first round of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. The 27-year-old is ranked No. 8 in the world.

It has been just over six years since I got an email about a Navajo kid who would be playing in the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

We at the Navajo Times got word of the kid who grew up in southern California but had deep roots in Navajo country, and naturally, we decided to check him out.

It was one of the hotter weekends in Scottsdale. I took the shuttle from the press parking lot to the Stadium Course at TPC Scottsdale is where I would soon meet this kid named Rickie Fowler.

Officials with the tournament set up my interview with Fowler on the second day of the tournament, but to get a feel for who he was I decided to follow him throughout the entire tournament.

Needless to say, it was a long weekend.

It was hot, crowded and everyone wanted to get a look at the kid in the bright Puma clothes.

He had more good shots than bad and finished second overall (for the second time); 15 strokes under and one shot behind the winner Hunter Mahan.

But where he would finish was the last thing on my mind when it was time for our interview. I was more intrigued by where he came from and where his journey began.

Fowler was quick to share that his mother, Lynne Fowler, was half Navajo and Japanese and his father was Caucasian.

He talked about his Navajo grandmother Jeanie (Yellowhair) Tanaka and how she educated him about his Diné roots, and how he used to visit and spent time in Tuba City.

He started golfing at about three years old; first having learned with his grandfather and eventually growing a deep love for the sport.

Fowler also mentioned his admiration for extreme sports like racing dirt bikes. His father Rod Fowler once raced for the Yamaha team.

Just a couple years before we met, Fowler was the number one ranked amateur golfer in the world in 2007 and 2008.

He had an electrifying personality and a smooth swing, and he still does.

And now, those two things and so much more have led the now 27-year-old to become the No. 8 ranked golfer in the world and a member of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Men’s Golf Team in the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It also happens to be golf’s return to the Olympics after it was absent for 112 years.

Fowler will tee off today at 8:58 a.m. and 6:03 a.m. tomorrow. Viewers can tune in on the Golf Channel.

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Categories: Golf
Tags: Olympics

About Author

Sunnie R. Clahchischiligi

Sunnie Clahchischiligi has been the sports writer for the Navajo Times since 2008. She has a bachelor’s degree in print journalism from the University of New Mexico. Before joining the Times, she worked at the St. Cloud Times (Minn.), the Albuquerque Journal, the Santa Fe New Mexican, Sports Illustrated Magazine in New York City and the Salt Lake Tribune. She can be reached at sunnie@navajotimes.com.