Updated: Wednesday, 06 August 2014 23:08 | By Agence France-Presse

Fowler confident at PGA after major near misses

US and British Open runner-up Rickie Fowler, seeking a breakthrough first major title at the PGA Championship, is confident he will be in the hunt again on Sunday at Valhalla.

Fowler confident at PGA after major near misses

Rickie Fowler of the United States looks on during a practice round prior to the start of the 96th PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club on August 5, 2014 in Louisville, Kentucky - by Jeff Gross

The 25-year-old American, who also shared fifth at the Masters, is paired with four-time major winner Ernie Els and France's Victor Dubuisson for the first two rounds of the year's final major tournament after two near misses.

"This year has definitely been the most comfortable I've felt in the majors," Fowler said Wednesday. "But I think the more I can put myself in contention on Sunday, and possibly in the final group, I'll just get more and more comfortable.

"Being comfortable means more confidence and we'll keep knocking at the door. I don't think there's a specific time frame or anything like that. I'm not going to push it. But I'll be out there giving it my all."

Fowler, ranked 18th, finished one-under par at formidable Pinehurst in June only to share second with countryman Erik Compton, eight strokes adrift of Germany's Martin Kaymer.

Last month at Royal Liverpool, Fowler began the final round six strokes off the pace of last-pairings partner Rory McIlroy and matched Spain's Sergio Garcia for second on 15-under, two behind the three-time major winner.

"If I keep putting myself in the final group, it's just a matter of time," Fowler said. "I'm starting to feel more and more comfortable in that position.

"You may have to get lucky at times, but playing well on Sunday is key."

Fowler has a building rivalry with world number one McIlroy, having beaten him in a playoff to win his first PGA title in 2012 at Quail Hollow and by six shots in the 2011 Korea Open for his first pro title.

"I look forward to going head-to-head with him quite a bit more," Fowler said. "This week is definitely a possibility. He's obviously on top of his game. I feel like he's driving it some of the best I've ever seen.

"If he keeps doing that, he'll be tough to beat, and it would be fun to go up against him on Sunday. Like I said at The Open Championship a couple weeks ago, it won't be the last time him and I are in the final group and going at it on Sunday."

Fowler credits part of his success to work with coach Butch Harmon that began full time last December.

"Butch has been a big influence this year, being with him on a mental and a physical side, with what we've done with the golf swing to make it more efficient and more repetitive and a little bit less dependent on timing," Fowler said.

The partnership began at last year's British Open when Fowler was down and frustrated.

"Just got to a point where I missed the cut over there and felt like I wasn't really getting anything out of my game. Confidence wasn't there and I was still dealing with a little bit of back issues," Fowler said.

"With the time that I spent in the gym and then getting with Butch to work on proper fundamentals throughout the swing and getting everything working efficiently and properly, we've been able to clear that up."

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