Murrieta’s Rickie Fowler (right), and Temecula’s Joe Skovron, both pictured here at the 2019 Farmers Insurance Open, announced last week they will be parting ways after 13 years. Valley News/Andrez Imaging

MEMPHIS, Tenn.Rickie Fowler entered the FedEx Cup Playoffs for the first time in two years, and he did so this year with a new caddie on his bag. One of the Tour’s longest player-caddie partnerships has ended after Fowler, a Murrieta native, and longtime caddie, Joe Skovron, of Temecula, parted ways last week.

Fowler and Skovron were one of the most recognizable player-caddie combos of the past decade-plus. Skovron caddied for Fowler since he turned pro in 2009 and was on the bag for all five of his PGA Tour wins, including Fowler’s biggest career victory at the 2015 Players Championship.

Unfortunately, Fowler has struggled of late, missing the FedEx Cup Playoffs for the first time last season and earning the final spot in this week’s FedEx St. Jude Championship as No. 125 in the FedExCup standings. It was last Friday afternoon, after Fowler had missed the cut at the Wyndham Championship, the final event of the regular season, that the two decided to pause their professional relationship.

“I told Joe I wasn’t really going to go into details on who mentioned the decision or who made the decision or anything like that,” Fowler told the media.” We have always been a team, we always will be, he’s like a big brother to me. Friendship and all that comes first. No hard feelings or anything like that, I just thought it was maybe the best option for the current time, but by no means does this mean we’re not gonna rekindle the flame in the future or anything like that, but I know it’s been tough on both of us.”

Fowler and Skovron go way back. They both grew up locally, and Skovron’s parents, Joe, and Valarie, ran the Valley Junior Golf Association where Fowler played some of his first tournaments. They climbed to as high as No. 4 in the world together, but Fowler has since dropped to 167th, his worst ranking since early 2010. Fowler qualified for just one major in 2022, tying for 23rd at the PGA Championship. He hasn’t played a Masters or U.S. Open since 2020.

“I’ve known Joe since I was 2 or 3,” Fowler said. “It is much more than a business thing for me. Like I said, he is like a big brother, we just thought it was potentially the best option for right now.”

In 13 years, there has been only one other week, Fowler’s rookie year, when he had someone else on the bag. It was one of the assistants from Oklahoma State, Donnie Darr, who caddied for Fowler at the Memorial. Fowler turned pro in 2009, finishing T2 in his second Tour start as a pro. He earned his card at Q-School later that year and has been on Tour ever since. He was the 2010 Rookie of the Year and made the first of his four Ryder Cup appearances that year. He also has played in three Presidents Cups.

Caddie Joe Skovron (left) and PGA Tour player, Rickie Fowler, watch the flight of his approach shot during play at the 2018 Farmers Insurance Open held at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego four years ago. Valley News/Andrez Imaging

In addition to his five PGA Tour wins, Fowler has three international wins: the 2011 Korean Open, 2015 Scottish Open and 2016 Abu Dhabi Championship. Fowler has not won on the Tour since the 2019 WM Phoenix Open, however. Unfortunately, Fowler has not won since the 2019 Phoenix Open and his slide in the world ranking has taken him all the way to No. 167. He earned half his points in a T3 finish at The CJ Cup at Summit, his lone top-10 of the season, had only two additional top-25s and missed the cut in nine of 21 starts this season, including the Wyndham Championship. The Murrieta Pro only finished at No. 125 when a couple of players had a tough final round, and because of nine LIV Golf players who didn’t count in the standings.

Fowler says he has no long-term plans for a replacement at this point. Ben Schomin, Cobra’s Tour operations manager, will fill in and carry the bag at this week’s FedEx St. Jude Championship. Schomin also was a fill-in caddie for Bryson DeChambeau at the 2021 Rocket Mortgage Classic after DeChambeau and Tim Tucker split before the first round.

“He’s spent a lot of time, between Bryson and I, on testing and whatnot,” Fowler said of Schomin. “It was an easy call for me, at least for this week. We are close, good friends, and we will have some fun out there, that’s for sure.”

This is the second straight week with a high-profile caddie change, as Will Zalatoris parted ways with caddie Ryan Goble last week. Zalatoris now has Joel Stock, former caddie for Ben Crane and Cameron Tringale, this week. Stock, who will debut on Zalatoris’ bag at the FedEx St. Jude Championship, was on the bag for Ben Crane’s 2016 victory at TPC Southwind.

“Sometimes a little tweak here or there is a good thing, and that’s ultimately what we kind of came up with,” Fowler said. “This could be good thing.”

After opening with a 65 this week at TPC Southwind, in his first round since parting ways with Skovron, he was tied for fifth and projected at 73rd on the points list, just three spots outside of qualifying for the second post-season event. He was first on Day 1 in strokes gained: off the tee and 53rd in strokes gained: putting. Follow the action this week at https://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard.html.

JP Raineri can be reached by email at sports@reedermedia.com.