Fowler looking to get back on winning track
February 24, 2017
By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
Rickie Fowler Round 2 highlights from HondaIn the second round of The Honda Classic 2017, Rickie Fowler strung together a fantastic round for a consecutive 4-under 66. This highlight is delivered by PGA TOUR LIVE.
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- Notes and observations from Friday’s second round of The Honda Classic, where Ryan Palmer and Wesley Bryan share the lead at 9 under par. For more from PGA National, check out the Daily Wrap-up.
Regardless of your opinion on the press’ propensity to create labels like “The Big Four,” the designation does help to explain why Rickie Fowler is eager to return to the winner’s circle, which he has a chance to do at The Honda Classic.
When Fowler won the Abu Dhabi Championship last January after a fruitful 2015 that featured three worldwide wins, including THE PLAYERS Championship and the second FedExCup Playoffs event, the Dell Technologies Championship, he was lumped into a quartet alongside Jason Day, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy.
Fowler is the only member of that foursome who’s failed to win since January 2016. McIlroy, the reigning FedExCup champion, and Day both won three times last year. Spieth has won three times since last January, most recently at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
Fowler now sits 14th in the Official World Golf Ranking after reaching a career-high of fourth last year; the other three still sit in the top six.
Fowler is in contention this week after shooting back-to-back 66s at PGA National’s Champion Course. He also opened last year’s Honda with consecutive 66s before fading with rounds of 74-71 on the weekend.
“I feel like it’s time for me to start finishing off some more events when I am in this position,” Fowler said. “I wouldn’t look just back at this specific event, but there’s been a few where I’ve had a chance.
“I’m looking forward to this weekend, on a golf course I feel comfortable on and I’m comfortable with my game right now.”
Fowler enjoyed an eventful 2016, representing the United States in the Olympics, Ryder Cup and World Cup, but also admitted there was room for improvement with his own game. He said his driving has improved since last summer, as has his short game.
Fowler put a 43 1/2-inch driver in play this week to try and improve his accuracy. It’s an inch shorter than the one he was using.
“It may look normal in my hands because I’m short, but it feels great,” said Fowler, who stands 5-foot-9. He has hit 21 of 28 fairways through two rounds.
PALMER RETURNS TO CONTENTION
Ryan Palmer didn’t a play a PGA TOUR event for the final 3 ½ months of 2016 as he cared for his wife Jennifer, who was undergoing treatment for breast cancer. He returned to the TOUR in January, but the long layoff led to anxiety on the putting green that caused him to struggle with the putter.
He changed putters last week, to the TaylorMade Spider, and worked with putting guru Dave Stockton. The moves are paying dividends at The Honda Classic, where he’s tied for the lead after shooting 66-65 in the first two rounds.
Ryan said that Jennifer, who was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer in July, is “doing awesome” and is scheduled to finish treatment in August. For more on this story, click here.
TRICKS OF THE TRADE
Wesley Bryan made birdie on the par-5 18th to share the lead for the second consecutive day. This is the second time he’s held a share of the lead halfway through a PGA TOUR event. He and Palmer will tee off at 1:50 p.m. in Saturday’s final group.
Bryan also was tied with Ryan Moore halfway through the John Deere Classic, which came a week after he earned his three-win promotion from the Web.com Tour. Bryan shot consecutive 70s in the final two rounds to finish eight shots behind Moore, who won the tournament.
What did he learn from that experience?
“Guys are good out here,” he said. “They don’t stop making birdies, so I have to make sure I keep my foot on the gas pedal.”
Bryan, No. 88 in the FedExCup, is coming off a career-best T4 finish at last week’s Genesis Open. He could earn a spot in next week’s WGC-Mexico Championship with a victory this week. The Augusta, Georgia, resident is looking for a Masters invitation, as well.
After shooting 64 on Thursday, Bryan made birdie on Friday’s first three holes. The former trick-shot artist also had this creative save from the trees on No. 8.
“I had a couple different options,” he said of the shot. “One was to go over all (the trees). I had a gap to do that. But the best I could have done was hit just short of the green. I could have chipped out sideways, but shoot, that was probably a harder shot than taking a low cut through the trees, and it paid off. So definitely don't want to go over there and hit it again.
SHOT OF THE DAY
Shot of the Day
Adam Scott's near-perfect tee shot is the Shot of the Day
CareerBuilder Challenge winner Hudson Swafford will have to wait to see if he’ll earn his first start in a World Golf Championship. The top 10 in the FedExCup standings at week’s end will earn berths in next week’s WGC-Mexico Championship. Swafford, who sits 10th in the standings, followed a first-round 69 at PGA National with a 5-over 75 to miss the Honda cut.
The cut fell at even par, matching the lowest cut in 10 years at PGA National. Cody Gribble, who held the first-round lead after shooting 64, shot a second-round 76 to make the cut on the number. He hit five greens on Friday after hitting all 18 one day earlier. … Justin Thomas, who finished third at this tournament last year, shot 71-70 to miss the cut. Thomas, No. 2 in the FedExCup, has missed two of three cuts after winning consecutive events in Hawaii.
FRIDAY'S BEST SOCIAL MEDIA
@RickieFowler I tee off at 12:45 man so I don't think I can make it. Save me one!!— Justin Thomas (@JustinThomas34) February 24, 2017
Every year PGA National is in fantastic shape. This year is no different even after 2 inches of rain late Wednesday afternoon! 👏👏👏— Billy Horschel (@BillyHo_Golf) February 24, 2017
"Umm ... sir? I believe you stepped on my line." pic.twitter.com/YUIdgdwglm— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) February 25, 2017