Nobody on the PGA Tour had a year like Rickie Fowler did in 2014.
Correction: Rickie Fowler accomplished something in 2014 that puts him in the company of the two best golfers in modern history, Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus.
All Fowler did to make this elite club was finish in the top 5 of all four major golf tournaments. Woods did it twice, in 2000 and 2005; Nicklaus did it twice, in 1971 and 1973.
Admittedly, there is a huge difference in this comparison: Fowler falls short of Nicklaus and Woods in that he didn't win a major championship in his big year. But still, contending in all four is a rare feat.
(Another way of looking at it: As Business Insider notes, Fowler recorded "the greatest single season at the four majors by a golfer who did not win.")
In fact, Fowler, who turned pro in 2009, has just one win on the PGA tour (2012, Wells Fargo Championship). He is, by his own admission, a couple steps behind golf's current top player and face of the future, Rory McIlroy, whom Fowler calls the "best player in the world, hands down." But Fowler has been acclaimed as the player most likely to become McIlroy's rival, something that McIlroy doesn't dispute. Following the PGA Championship earlier this month, McIlroy and Fowler, who are both 25 years old and are reportedly friends, traded tweets about the state of their relationship and what might happen:
@RickieFowlerPGA: Congrats to @McIlroyRory on some great golf as of late…let's keep having fun with it!
@McIlroyRory: @RickieFowlerPGA your day is coming… And very soon! Great fight out there, let's hope for many more battles in the future!
@RickieFowlerPGA: @McIlroyRory thanks man…many more battles for sure…at tourneys and home in Jup…enjoy the week off!
Fowler is currently ranked 11th in the world, but sportswriters have penciled him in to the top two. Someday:
The Blog of Sports: Is Rory McIlroy versus Rickie Fowler golf's next greatest rivalry?
Rant Sports: Rory McIlroy-Rickie Fowler Rivalry Is Here to Stay
Fowler is Navajo (and Japanese) on his mother's side. He is essentially self-taught, an alumnus of Oklahoma State University (and always proudly wears orange on Sundays) and known for attending weekly Bible study sessions while on tour. His year is not yet over: He'll play at least another couple rounds of the FedEx Cup, and is on the U.S. Ryder Cup team that will compete in Scotland at the end of September.
Here's a profile of Fowler compiled by the PGA: