Phoenix Open: Rickie Fowler honors 7-year-old who died of rare disorder

"That guy is one of the nicest human beings in the world. It's genuine. That's what a lot of people don't realize. He's not doing it for any other reason. When he celebrates with us, it's because he's genuinely happy for us."

Jordan Spieth said those words to Jason Sobel of ESPN about Rickie Fowler at the end of 2017.

Fowler has never done anything to dissuade anyone otherwise. This week is more of the same. Fowler wore a pin on his hat on Thursday to honor his pal, Griffin Connell, who died last week at the age of 7. Connell had become a mainstay at this event and a buddy of Fowler's when he was in town.

PGA: Waste Management Phoenix Open - First Round
Fowler honors Connell with a pin on his hat. USATSI

"Planning on wearing this or something ... in memory of him," Fowler said of his Connell pin. "I met him, I can't remember if it was five or six years ago here, so he ... was probably two or three at the time. He kind of cruised around, his parents would kind of push him around. I think we have seen kind of like from a stroller to buggy to all kinds of things. But he was just a huge fan of the game, I was lucky to have him ... I claim him as being my No. 1 fan, so he had a special place with me and (caddie) Joe (Skovron).

"We looked forward to seeing him and the family every week out here at the tournament every year. So it's unfortunate that we don't have him here this week because he was fun to see."

Connell was laid to rest last Saturday.

Griffin was diagnosed at birth with a very rare complex airway disorder. Despite long odds, Griffin endured countless surgeries over the years and was an inspiration to all with his larger than life personality and unwavering determination. He lived an amazingly full life in such a short time. Griffin developed a love for all sports, especially golf, football, and bowling, and loved watching movies and playing video games.

"It just makes you appreciate the position that a lot of us are in," added Fowler. "Even if it I hit a bad shot out there the past years you would look over and see him he was just pumped and excited to be out there watching us. And it just puts things into perspective. He could care less if I played well or bad, he was always supporting us. 

" ... Just kind of humbles you, grounds you a bit, and makes you realize that there's a lot bigger things than just playing golf."

CBS Sports Writer

Kyle Porter began his sports writing career with CBS Sports in 2012. He covers golf, writes poetry about Rory McIlroy's swing, stays ready on Tiger watch and loves the Masters more than anyone you know.... Full Bio

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