It was one of the best marquee matchups on the first day of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Jon Rahm vs. Rickie Fowler. Rahm, of course, has been on or near the top of the world for months now, and with tons of work, Fowler has clawed his way back to respectability and even consistent contention. No matter what, there figured to be some fireworks.
What we didn’t anticipate is that there would be a battle of wild Hawaiian shirts, and the faceoff began hours before they teed it up.
As Fowler told reporters after his 2-and-1 victory over Rahm at Austin Country Club on Wednesday, he happened to come upon the Spaniard while working out in the gym. They were both wearing black at the time and Rahm joked about them twinning. Then they discovered that they’d be wearing Hawaiin prints for the match.
“I was like, ‘well, I’ve got kind of a tropical, floral shirt’ and he’s, like, ‘I do, too,’” Fowler said. “I was, like, ‘mine is black.’ He’s, like, ‘all right, mine is white.’ So, the battle began early.”
Funny at the time, but it was the 49th-seeded Fowler who came out on top of the second-seeded Rahm. Fowler didn’t go up in the match until the 12th hole, and then benefitted from two Rahm bogeys to ultimately win.
“It was a bummer to see him struggle the way he did,” Fowler said. “I know he’s going to give the guys a hard time the next couple days because that was very uncharacteristic.”
Fowler now faces Billy Horschel on Thursday, while Rahm takes on Keith Mitchell. Horschel and Mitchell tied on Wednesday.