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Fan heckles Rickie Fowler for backing out of Leeds United ownership group

A fan called Rickie Fowler a “coward”  this week at Royal Liverpool after he decided not to invest in Leeds United with Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth.

A fan called Rickie Fowler a “coward” this week at Royal Liverpool after he decided not to invest in Leeds United with Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. (AP/Jon Super)

At least one fan at Royal Liverpool Golf Club isn’t happy with Rickie Fowler for pulling out of the Leeds United deal.

A fan during the opening round of the British Open on Thursday started heckling Fowler as he was walking down a fairway. He called Fowler a “coward” for backing out of a deal earlier this month that would have made him a minority investor in the English soccer team, something that Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth went through with.

Fowler, who suggested Thursday that the fan should have “put up his own money,” wasn’t happy with it.

“Plenty of people have given me the needle for not going through with it, but he went over the edge,” Fowler said after his third round on Saturday, via Golfweek’s Adam Schupak.

“I didn’t think it was needed.”

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 purchased the club at an evaluation of about $213 million, a figure that was reportedly cut in half after Leeds was relegated out of the Premier League earlier this year.

Several high profile 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 more.

Spieth and Thomas opted to join, too. Fowler, Spieth said, backed out after Leeds was relegated.

“Relegation wasn’t ideal,” Spieth said earlier this month, via The Associated Press, “but we got involved with the 49ers group about purchasing a larger share and getting in with them doing things as successfully as they do everywhere they’ve touched.

“We thought it would be a cool opportunity. It’s a big city, historic club, great venue in Elland Road, and once we looked into it we realized it could be really exciting.”

Fowler, however, insisted he was content with his decision not to invest.

“There may be some other opportunities out there, and I would say football, as we call it soccer, isn’t something that — obviously it isn’t as big in the States, but a lot of us that don’t follow it as deeply as everyone over here, we appreciate sport at the highest level,” Fowler said. “When opportunities like that come up, I would love to be a part of something. We’ll see what the future holds.”

Fowler carded a 4-under 67 on Saturday at the British Open. His first bogey-free round of the week got him to 1-under for the tournament, which moved him up about 40 spots on the leaderboard. He’s still well behind leader Brian Harman, who started Saturday with a five-shot lead.

Fowler has won six times in his career on the PGA Tour, most recently at the Rocket Mortgage Classic earlier this month. That marked his first win since 2019. He entered this week ranked No. 22 in the Official World Golf Rankings.

While the heckler on Thursday got to him a bit, Fowler said that guy was just an outlier.

“Other than maybe a “coward” comment here or there, 99.9% [of fans] are amazing,” Fowler said. “But you deal with that anywhere you go. Same thing in the States.

“But yeah, the fans over here, it’s always fun to come play links golf in front of them. I feel like they have such a great appreciation of golf, proper golf shots and playing golf in conditions and knowing even just a ball getting on the green is a great shot from wherever it may be.”