- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 6, 2014

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Rickie Fowler first began working with Butch Harmon last year at the British Open, not knowing whether it would take two months or two years to see some results. The turnaround was quicker than he imagined.

Despite a rugged start to the season, Fowler has really stood out in the majors. He is the only player with top-five finishes in each of them this year.

“Butch has been a big influence this year … with what we’ve done with the golf swing to make it more efficient and more repetitive and a little less dependent on timing,” Fowler said.

That wasn’t the only change he made this year.

Fowler said one reason for his strong performance in the majors was preparing better with caddie Joe Skovron, and developing a plan with Harmon on how to be ready for the four biggest events of the year. For the first time, Fowler has played every tournament the week before a major.

He finished sixth in the Shell Houston Open. He tied for 13th in the St. Jude Classic. And he tied for eighth in the Scottish Open. He tied for eighth last week at the Bridgestone Invitational, an event he typically plays before the PGA Championship.

Fowler said he makes a checklist at those events to make sure his game is in shape.

“If there was any low point, it gave me a chance to work on that in competition and work things out and get ready for that following week,” Fowler said. “So that’s probably been the biggest thing, just the process and the prep work along with Butch.”


EUROPEAN PICKS: Bernhard Langer, who turns 57 at the end of the month, already has four wins on the Champions Tour including two majors. He won the Senior British Open in a runaway in Wales, stirring discussion about whether he could be a captain’s pick for the Ryder Cup.

European captain Paul McGinley shot down that notion Wednesday.

“Tremendous guy, huge heart as we all know,” McGinley said. “It’s very hard for me to evaluate Bernhard for two reasons.”

The first is that McGinley has plenty of players already under consideration a list that could include Lee Westwood and Luke Donald who are outside the standings. Secondly, he doesn’t have any world ranking events on which to accurately judge Langer. He is No. 462 in the world. The only regular event the German played this year was the Masters, where he finished eight shots behind in a tie for eighth.

“So it’s very hard for me to evaluate Bernhard where he is vis-a-vis the rest of the players,” he said. “As a result, I’ll almost certainly … I’ll never say never, but it’s 99.9 percent sure that my picks will come from the guys who are on the periphery of the team and chasing at the moment.”

Then there’s the case of Ian Poulter, Europe’s stalwart the last few teams who nearly single-handedly led the comeback win at Medinah in 2012. Poulter isn’t having his best year, but it might be more shocking if McGinley left Poulter off the team than if Tom Watson didn’t pick Tiger Woods.

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