PINEHURST, N.C. — Rickie Fowler got a smile and thumbs-up from Phil Mickelson in the locker room Thursday before teeing off in the U.S. Open.
On the first hole, Fowler said someone shouted out “Rickie Stewart.”
Few knew that Fowler planned to wear plus-fours in the opening round of the Open as a sartorial tribute to the late Payne Stewart, who died a few months after his dramatic victory in the 1999 Open at Pinehurst. It was a closely guarded secret, he said.
Fowler’s decision was well-received. His stylish white pleated pants, which extend 4 inches below the knee, and knee-high argyle socks were reminiscent of those worn by Stewart, although Fowler did not wear a Hogan cap (he stayed true to a Puma flat brim) that Stewart favored.
“It was my way of recognizing Payne. He was one of my favorite players of all time,” said Fowler, who was 10 when Stewart died in a plane crash. “I loved the way he played and handled himself off the course. It was cool to connect with the fans today, a special day.”
And Friday? “I’m going back to pants,” Fowler said.