Rickie Fowler’s Team USA uniform will feature a colourful touch of Australia when his pledge to wear a Leuk the Duck pin in support of the legacy left by Jarrod Lyle continues at the Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne Golf Club next week.
Since the passing of Lyle in August of last year at just 36 years of age, few in professional golf have been more visibly supportive of the Lyle family and provided continued exposure for Challenge – the organisation that supports kids and families dealing with cancer – than Fowler.
Close friends from their days playing the Korn Ferry Tour together and then the PGA TOUR, Fowler was asked upon Jarrod’s passing by his wife Briony to continue to wear the Leuk the Duck pin first gifted to him by Jarrod in 2012.
It has been a permanent fixture on Fowler’s golf attire ever since and will continue to be so at the Presidents Cup and beyond, making the popular Californian an even harder opponent to cheer against at the very place Lyle first came to prominence 14 years ago.
Last man into the US team following the withdrawal of world No.1 Brooks Koepka, Fowler is hoping to see Briony whilst in Melbourne and hinted that his support of Challenge will manifest itself in other ways in the near future.
“I’m always going to be a huge supporter of Leuk the Duck and Jarrod Lyle, given the relationship that he and I had,” Fowler explained.
“I’ve got my Duck with me, and it’s put in some miles. It’s the same Duck that Jarrod gave me back in 2012 I believe.
“It was something that Jarrod and Briony had talked about. He had told Briony that that was something he wanted to ask of me, someone to kind of help carry the torch for the Leuk the Duck brand and everything it stands for, as well as Jarrod himself and his family. Everything they went through, not just the last time, but all three times.
“So for me to be able to do something as little and small as wearing a pin on my hat to kind of represent all of that, that was something that I was honoured to be able to do and look forward to be able to put that pin on there every round I played last year.
“I’m looking forward to being able to work on some more things with Briony in the future and hopefully some stuff soon to kind of keep that momentum rolling with Leuk the Duck.”
Whether fighting for crowd favouritism with local boy Adam Scott at the 2013 Australian PGA Championship on the Gold Coast or finishing second alongside Matt Kuchar at the 2016 World Cup of Golf at Kingston Heath, Fowler is renowned as something of a Pied Piper for young golf fans drawn to his style that challenges golf traditions.
Whether it’s the longish hair, flat-brimmed caps or basketball-style golf shoes, Fowler treads the line of respectful and flamboyant better than most and will once again be a welcome presence on Australian soil.
But while Aussie pair Adam Scott and Marc Leishman have both called for local fans not to be too vociferous in praise of the star-studded US side, Fowler still expects Australian fans to applaud good golf from both teams.
“I don’t expect to be any kind of fan favourites or anything like that down there,” Fowler admitted.
“I expect the home crowd to root for the home team, but I think that we want to show off good golf from both sides, and have the fans appreciate good golf.
“But if they cheer louder for a birdie on the International side versus a birdie on the US side, that’s how it should be.
“It’s a home game for the Internationals, but we are going to try and keep them quiet and take care of our business.”