(Reuters) - Fresh from victory at the European Tour’s Abu Dhabi Championship on Sunday, globe-trotting American Rickie Fowler will be targeting his fifth title in just eight months at this week’s Farmers Insurance Open outside San Diego.
Winning four times in his last 18 starts worldwide has given the 27-year-old Californian a massive confidence boost, though he was reluctant to say that he now expects to finish atop the leaderboard whenever he tees it up at a tournament.
“I wouldn’t say expecting (to win), but it’s having that belief and that confidence knowing that I can go out and get the job done,” world number four Fowler told reporters at Torrey Pines on Wednesday ahead of Thursday’s opening round.
”And having done so, winning four times in the last eight months or so, the confidence and that belief has only continued to grow. It’s a fun time for me. It’s a great time for golf.
“There’s a lot of guys playing well and I‘m just proud to be a part of that and proud to be a part of the mix of those top guys right now and I want to continue to do that.”
Fowler is snapping at the heels of world number one Jordan Spieth, second-ranked Jason Day and third-ranked Rory McIlroy, though he accepts he needs to win his first major title if he is to transform the so-called ‘Big Three’ into a ‘Big Four’.
“To solidify being the four of us, winning a major would definitely help that,” said Fowler, a three-times winner on the PGA Tour.
”But for now, the four of us and plenty of other guys right behind us and down the line, everyone’s playing some pretty incredible golf.
“And when we play together, I feel like it kind of pushes each other to elevate our games to the next level. I obviously have my own goals, but when those guys are playing well ... we’re all motivating each other to become better players.”
Fowler is one of five players ranked in the world’s top 10 headlining a strong field at Torrey Pines, the others being Australian Day, England’s Justin Rose (seventh) and Americans Dustin Johnson (eighth) and Patrick Reed (10th).
Day is the defending champion, having triumphed last year in a four-way playoff with Americans J.B. Holmes, Harris English and 2014 winner Scott Stallings, but his tournament preparations have been hampered by flu-like symptoms.
On Wednesday, the ailing Day withdrew from the pro-am competition at Torrey Pines, though PGA Tour officials said they still expect Day to tee off in the opening round as planned.
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Larry Fine