Rickie Fowler slowly returning to form ahead of his first 3M Open

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Jul. 22—There was a time not too long ago that the stylish Rickie Fowler was among the best golfers in the world. He was ranked as high a No. 4 in the world earlier in his career and was a big part of Team USA beating Team Europe in the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National Golf Club.

Nowadays, the 32-year-old Fowler is trying to rediscover his game. He enters this weekend's 3M Open at TPC Twin Cities in Blaine outside of the Top 100 in the World Golf Rankings, though his recent play would suggest he's trending in the right direction.

"I'm probably a lot closer than I think," Fowler told reporters on Wednesday. "I know I'm close. It's just not all coming together yet."

In that same breath, Fowler said he's pleased with the way he's hitting his irons as of late, and the fact that his putter is starting to become a weapon again. He admits his driver continues to leave something to be desired.

"I think driving the ball can always get better," Fowler said. "That sets up everything from hitting fairways and getting myself opportunities to be aggressive versus playing from the rough."

There have been flashes over the past couple of months, like when he finished T8 at the PGA Championship in May, or when he was T11 at the Memorial Tournament in June. Most recently, Fowler finished tied for 53rd last weekend at The Open Championship, closing the major tournament on a high note with a 5-under 65.

"I'm feeling good going into this week," said Fowler, who arrived in Minnesota at 1:30 a.m. on Monday. "Just need to clean a few things up. I'm taking a lot from how I played on Sunday and trying to go out here and wear out as many fairways and greens as we can."

That's the name of the game at the 3M Open. It's a birdie-fest that has consistently produced very low scores in the past. Just look at previous winners Matthew Wolff and Michael Thompson, who finished with final scores of 21-under and 19-under, respectively, en route to being crowned champion.

Asked whether that style of play suits his game, Fowler admitted he would rather play a tournament where the winning score is closer to 8- to 12-under. That said, Fowler made it clear that he's looking forward to going out and being aggressive this weekend.

He played the course a couple of times earlier this week, and while he described it as "fairly straightforward" in the way that it's laid out, he stressed the importance of staying out of the water. It's no secret that the massive lake guarding the green on No. 18 has derailed countless rounds in the past.

No matter what happens to Fowler this weekend, the fact that he's participating in any capacity will be a welcomed sight at TPC Twin Cities. He's a fan favorite regardless of how he's playing.

"It's been nice over the last few months to finally at least see some more consistency or at least heading in the right direction," Fowler said. "I'm happy about where we are. But we still have a little ways to go to be where we want to be."

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