At least one Royal Liverpool Golf Club fan is not happy Rickie Fowler has pulled out of the Leeds United deal.
A fan during the first round of the British Open on Thursday began heckling Fowler as he walked down a fairway. He called Fowler a “coward” for walking away from a deal earlier this month that would have made him a minority investor in the England football team, which Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth have experienced.
Fowler, who suggested on Thursday that the fan should have “invested his own money,” was unhappy.
“A lot of people gave me the needle for not going all the way, but he went too far,” Fowler said after his third round on Saturday, via Golfweek’s Adam Schupak.
“I didn’t think it was necessary.”
The San Francisco 49ers ownership group officially took full control of Leeds this month after owner Andrea Radrizzani agreed to sell his majority stake. 49ers Enterprises bought the club for a valuation of around $213million, a figure that would have been halved after Leeds were relegated from the Premier League earlier this year.
Several top athletes have joined the ownership group, including Los Angeles Clippers guard Russell Westbrook, New Orleans Pelicans forward Larry Nance Jr., Indiana Pacers guard TJ McConnell and many more.
Spieth and Thomas also chose to join. Fowler, Spieth said, fell back after Leeds were relegated.
“Relegation wasn’t ideal,” Spieth said earlier this month, via The Associated Press, “but we got involved with the 49ers group to buy a bigger share and come in with them to do things as successfully as they do wherever they’ve touched.
“We thought it would be a great opportunity. It’s a big city, a historic club, a great venue on Elland Road, and once we looked around we realized it could be really exciting.
Fowler, however, insisted he was happy with his decision not to invest.
“There may be other opportunities there, and I would say that football, as we call it football, is not something that – obviously it’s not as important in the United States, but a lot of us who don’t follow it as deeply as everyone here, we enjoy the sport at the highest level,” Fowler said. “When opportunities like this arise, I would love to be a part of something. We’ll see what the future holds.
Fowler netted a 4-under 67 on Saturday at the British Open. His first bogey-free round of the week brought him to 1 under for the tournament, which moved him up about 40 spots in the standings. He is still far behind leader Brian Harman, who started Saturday with a five-stroke lead.
Fowler has won six times in his PGA Tour career, most recently at the Rocket Mortgage Classic earlier this month. It was his first win since 2019. He entered this week at No. 22 in the Official World Golf Rankings.
While Thursday’s heckler touched him a bit, Fowler said the guy was just an outlier.
“Aside from maybe a ‘loose’ comment here or there, 99.9% [of fans] are amazing,” Fowler said. “But you deal with it everywhere you go. Same thing in the United States.
“Yes, the fans here, it’s always fun to come and play golf in front of them. I feel like they have such a great appreciation for golf, good golf shots and golf in conditions and knowing that even a ball that hits the green is a great shot from anywhere.