Why Rickie Fowler is American golf's next big thing
Tom Watson doesn't make rash predictions, he prefers to use the tool of hindsight when it comes to making judgements on the modern game.
But there is no doubt that the 62-year-old American likes what he sees from his country's most exciting young golfing talent, Rickie Fowler.
Just to be clear - it's this blog, not Watson, that is making no apology for pinning that hyperbolic tag on the wide peak of Fowler's trademark cap.
Veteran eight-time major champion Watson is too circumspect to go down that route, even after a fortnight that surely signalled the 23-year-old's coming of age on the PGA Tour.
Fowler has been tipped as one of the stars of the PGA Tour for many years to come. Photo: Getty
Matt Kuchar may have claimed the flagship Players Championship in fine style but the past couple of weeks have belonged to Fowler. He followed up his maiden Tour victory at Quail Hollow with an inspired share of second place at Sawgrass.
They were performances to suggest he's firmly on course to satisfy huge levels of expectation that have been with him throughout his fledgling professional career.
"He has confirmed he can win and that is very important," Watson told me. "Once you have that first win it shows you that you can win again.
"They were starting to ask questions about him, but I saw at Royal St George's at the Open last year that Rickie is a real talent. He showed it there and he can win more tournaments."
Those questions were surfacing because it took Fowler 68 attempts to land his first PGA Tour victory. After all, he was the stellar amateur who could boast a 7-1 winning record from two Walker Cups. He then turned pro in 2009 and contested a play-off in only his second appearance on Tour.
Indeed, Fowler had three runners-up finishes to his name inside his first nine months as a touring pro. On that basis 68 tournaments to land your first victory is rather pedestrian and it's why there was growing concern Stateside that he might not be quite the real deal.
Anyone who, like Watson, saw the Californian at Sandwich would have been less worried. I count myself lucky to have walked all eighteen holes with Fowler in the worst of the Open's third round weather.
Rugged up in a brilliant white waterproof suit, his chin tucked beneath its collar for protection from the vile elements, the then 22-year-old completely outplayed Rory McIlroy with a stunning round of 68.
It remains one of the finest rounds of golf I have ever witnessed and it helped Fowler to a share of fifth place, his best finish in a major to date.
The quality of his shot-making and composure was something to behold and so it was not a huge surprise that he should pop up to beat McIlroy and DA Points in the Quail Hollow play-off just over a week ago.
"Ever since he was a 15-year-old, everyone said he acted more like a 25-year-old," said Fowler's father Rod.
Much of the golfing media has already heralded the start of a Fowler/McIlroy rivalry but like Watson we should be more circumspect than that at this stage.
Fowler, who beat McIlroy to win last year's Korean Open, certainly is not looking to fuel such talk. His observations show the maturity of which his dad was speaking. "I definitely think Rory and I have a friendly rivalry," he said.
"We've played against each other a few times starting at the Walker Cup. I respect his game and I feel like he respects mine. I know he wants to beat me just as bad as I want to beat him.
"But I think that both him and I would have to kind of run away and play really well for it to be just a rivalry between the two of us. There's a lot of really good young players right now."
According to Ian Poulter, who marked Fowler's card in a brilliant third-round 66 at a breezy Sawgrass, the American is not yet as good a player as McIlroy, but there is no doubting he is seriously good news for the US game.
He has a fantastic rapport with an ever-growing army of fans and has shown considerable class dealing with them and fellow pros. Fowler hung around to support compatriot Bubba Watson in his play-off win at the Masters and waited in the recorders' area to congratulate Kuchar at the Players Championship.
Ryder Cup teams can be built around such generous spirit and Fowler has already shown his appetite for the biennial clash with Europe in his debut at Celtic Manor two years ago. There he came from three down with three to play to snatch a vital half against Edoardo Molinari.
"We have a lot of exciting young American talent in the game at the moment," added Watson, who will be returning to Turnberry for July's British Seniors Open.
"Rickie Fowler has shown it with his performances over the last fortnight and there are plenty of others, like Hunter Mahan as well. I really hope this can help us in this year's Ryder Cup match."
There must be every chance when we get to Medinah in September. Fowler has been the star turn in the last spell of tournaments but Kuchar's win along with those enjoyed in recent weeks by Jason Dufner, Ben Curtis, Mahan, Tiger Woods and Bubba Watson indicate the American game is in great health.
Even Tom Watson is prepared to say as much.