CHARLOTTE, NC - MAY 06: Rickie Fowler of the United States celebrates after making a putt for birdie on the first playoff hole to defeat Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland and D.A. Points of the United States during the final round to win the Wells Fargo Championship at the Quail Hollow Club on May 6, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
The desire to win on the PGA TOUR must come from within, and often at the expense of living up to the world's expectations. In the case of Rickie Fowler, patience proved to be as important as handling the pressure of victory.
Winning on the PGA Tour is the dream of every professional golfer. As with any career choice, achieving the pinnacle of one's craft is often the main motivating force that keeps someone going week after week, year after year. For some success comes quickly; for others, success is but a pipe dream. The desire to reach success, however, remains constant.
Rickie Fowler's first tour victory at the 2012 Wells Fargo Championship -- in all intents and purposes -- came relatively early in his career. Sixty-seven events is not the longest drought a player has gone without a victory. Tiger Woods, one of the best golfers in the history of the game, has gone through longer winless streaks, for example. Of course, he also has over 70 wins on his resume as a professional to go along with numerous junior titles, amateur championships, and other trophies. Yet he'll likely say his desire remains the same now as it was while learning the game.
What Fowler did this past weekend was far from extraordinary in the eyes of the casual golf fan. While certainly a fan-favorite in his own right, Fowler simply lived up to the expectations placed on him since his rookie season. He has to win in order to be deemed successful (not only to fans, but perhaps even in his own mind). But expectations don't always coinicide with the desire to win. In fact, the two can almost seem like opposite forces working against one another.
In the case of Woods -- the oft-used point-of-reference for modern golf greatness -- expectations now scream louder than any amount of desire he may possess. Woods is supposed to break every record, win more majors, and be great. Anything less would be a failure, fair or not. How much does desire play into Woods' performance in 2012, and how much does his hope to live up to expectations? That answer may change from week to week.
The desire to win keeps most players on the course. It is the fuel that pushes them to achieve regardless of expectation or outside influences. Desire can only come from within, and it is a highly-personable attitude best defined by the player experiencing it. Sometimes that definition includes the word "pressure", other times it includes "patience".
In the case of Rickie Fowler, remaining patient in the face of pressure allowed him to achieve that which he desired. The only question that remains is simple: how has his desire to win changed now that he has his first taste?