Rickie Fowler backs Rory McIlroy to complete career grand slam with Masters victory
Last Updated: 20/07/14 9:22pm
Open Championship joint runner-up Rickie Fowler has no doubt Rory McIlroy will complete the career grand slam with a Masters title after adding the third leg by picking up the Claret Jug at Royal Liverpool.
However, the American - who has finished in the top five at all this year's majors - insists just because his fellow 25-year-old is now at the top of his game it does not mean the end of an era for Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.
With 14 and five majors respectively, that pair have been the two stand-out players of the last decade but Fowler believes it is too early to write them off.
But he is confident McIlroy - who in winning the Claret Jug became only the third person after Jack Nicklaus and Woods to have completed three-quarters of the grand slam by the age of 25 - will elevate himself into the stratosphere they occupy by winning at Augusta to complete a clean sweep, having won the 2011 US Open and 2012 US PGA.
"I really don't have any doubt that he'll win there," said Fowler, who finished joint second with Sergio Garcia, two strokes behind the newly-crowned Open champion.
"I don't see any reason why he's not going to win there. It definitely fits his game. It's hard to say that there's really any course that doesn't suit him when he's on his game and I've seen him play very well there.
"It's just a matter of time but it would be nice if I can get that one before he does.
"We've been here for a few years. Rory is obviously doing well with three majors now. I definitely have some catching up to do but I am getting closer.
It's hard to be disappointed about it because it was such a great week and with the way I had been playing in the majors there was some pressure to play well this week.
"It's been fun to be in contention at the majors this year but as far as a changing of the guard I don't see Tiger and Phil and some of those guys running off anywhere.
Comfortable on big stage
"We're ready to go to battle against them, though."
Fowler did very little wrong in the final round playing alongside McIlroy but, while the Northern Irishman was able to find birdies seemingly just when he needed them, his American rival had just two in 14 holes.
He found some form too late with three birdies in his last four holes to close with a five-under round of 67, but McIlroy coasted home to win by two as Fowler was left to rue another near miss this year.
"It's kind of similar to being one of the only guys at the US Open to be under par and not win," he added.
"It was a great week there as well and the same here, Rory just kind of distanced himself from the field a bit, especially with his finish yesterday.
"It's hard to be disappointed about it because it was such a great week and with the way I had been playing in the majors there was some pressure to play well this week.
"But with how comfortable I've been it doesn't feel like a big stage, it feels like I should be here. I'm definitely pleased with it.
"There's plenty more to come. I'll take 15-under in a lot of majors and sit there and wait in the clubhouse.
"Congratulations to Rory. He played awesome and it was just kind of fun to throw a few shots at him coming in. To see him win was pretty cool."