Scott Fowler

Could Rickie Fowler conquer ‘hardest test,’ win his first major at Quail Hollow?

Majors are supposed to be the toughest test of a golfer’s mettle. Even within the four majors, though, there is a sliding scale of difficulty. Some courses are easier to post a low score on than others.

For Rickie Fowler, there’s little doubt what the most prickly major course this year is – Charlotte’s Quail Hollow Club, where the PGA Championship is being played through Sunday.

“If you look at the majors, this is probably the hardest test we’ve had this year,” Fowler said Friday after carding his second straight good round. “That’s saying something.”

Fowler is playing a tough course well so far. He is three strokes under par after rounds of 69 and 70 but knows he will be at least five strokes out of the lead starting his third round Saturday.

Fowler – no relation to me, unfortunately – has had his share of success in Charlotte. The 28-year-old Californian won the Wells Fargo Championship in 2012 at Quail Hollow for the first of his four career PGA Tour victories.

What he hasn’t done yet is win a major. With Sergio Garcia’s popular victory at the Masters earlier this year, Fowler has in some minds inherited the dreaded title of “Best Golfer To Never Win A Major” – although Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama is another strong contender for that moniker and another strong contender this weekend.

Halfway through this tournament, Fowler knows he has another chance to get his first major.

“With the way I’ve been playing, how I’m swinging this week and last week going into it, I know I can win this week,” Fowler said. “That’s already set. It’s more so in between the ears, making sure I make the right decisions and not get ahead of myself.”

Fowler seemed to enjoy himself Friday, getting finished early before there were any weather delays. It probably helped that he never carded a triple bogey (he survived one during Thursday’s round).

At one point Friday, Fowler went over to talk to NBA star Andre Iguodola – who was following the group that included both Fowler and Rory McIlroy – while waiting to hit a shot. Fowler said he is trying to keep himself calm entering what could be the biggest weekend of his career.

“No reason to waste any extra energy,” Fowler said. “It’s a long week. It’s a major and like I said it’s a tough venue. Plenty more stuff out there to drain you… . I’m going to keep it mellow and relaxed like it’s been the first two days.”