By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Rickie Fowler is 2 under with one round to play in the 77th Masters. If not for three holes, he could have been lower -- a lot lower.
It started with a double bogey on his very first hole of the week after driving into the trees and running his approach long. It continued with another nine holes later.
On Friday, Fowler yelled for his ball to go at the par-3 16th. It didn't, splashing down with Fowler eventually making triple bogey.
"You can end up in some funky spots around here," Fowler said. "It's just golf, a bad swing at the wrong time."
Take away those bad swings and Fowler is right there near the top of the leaderboard after a 2-under 70 on Saturday that included an eagle, a birdie and just one bogey.
Instead, he'll have some ground to make up.
"I played a little bit better than (Friday)," said Fowler, who came into the week off a tie for third at Bay Hill, where he played without pain medication for his ailing back for the first time since last June. "A little less stressful. "
His chances of winning his first major, however, are also a little more difficult thanks to three holes.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- In case you've been hiding under a rock and didn't know, Rickie Fowler, he of the colorful clothes and lat-brimmed hat, is a devotee of motocross as well as golf.
So the 23-year-old came up with one of the more descriptive accounts of his first-round 68 at the Masters that included two double bogeys in his first 10 holes.
"I would have went down pretty hard on the first corner and probably been out of the race," Fowler said as he thought back to the opening stretch. "Could have been a pile-up in the first corner so I would have been heading back to the pits."
Instead, the resiliant Fowler played his final eight holes in 4 under with two birdies and an eagle at the 15th hole. He finds himself among the leaders, as a result, as he begins the second round in Friday's final group with Jason Day and Padraig Harrington.
"Just try to keep moving forward -- not take too yourself out of the tournament," Fowler said, using more conventional language to describe his strategy. "You know you can't win it on Thursday but you definitely can lose it. Just trying to stick to the game plan, not take too many risks."
Fowler, who is playing in his 13th major championship this week, knows Sunday is the day to try and make things happen. After all, he had his appetite whetted a year ago when his good buddy Bubba Watson won the Masters and Fowler, Ben Crane and Aaron Baddeley followed him in the playoff.
"Seeing him do what he did, being there with him and being able to share that moment and on through the night, through dinner and stuff, it was definitely special and gave me a little bit of a kick in the butt to go win a golf tournament," said Fowler, who did just that at the Wells Fargo Championship a month later.
"Made me, I guess, appreciate the Masters a little bit more."
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- As low as scores were in the opening round, the opposite has been true in Round 2. The Masters has been a bit formulaic that way in recent years with a benign setup on Thursday, a difficult one on Friday, somewhere in between on Saturday and back to a little more birdie-friendly on Sunday.
Only a smattering of players are under par so far and the lead, at least for now, remains at 6 under.
Will anyone be able to make a move this afternoon? Given the aforementioned formula and some difficult pin placements, it seems unlikely.
Here's a look at who to watch for this afternoon:
Marc Leishman, Jose Maria Olazabal, T.J. Vogel, 12:35 p.m.: No Aussie has ever won the Masters -- a fact Leishman is acutely aware of. If that's going to change, he'll need to continue roll the ball like he did on Thursday when he had just 25 putts. Picking the brain of 1999 winner Olazabal wouldn't be a bad idea, either.
Bubba Watson, Ian Poulter, Steven Fox, 1:30 p.m.: Only three players have successfully defended here and it looks like it will stay that way after Watson opened with a 75. He's going to have to work just to make the cut. Ditto Poulter, who despite feeling this is his best place to win a major, labored to a 76. The last defending champ to miss the cut, by the way, was Mike Weir in 2004.
Tiger Woods, Luke Donald, Scott Piercy, 1:41 p.m.: The second round historically has been pretty good to Woods, who has half dozen rounds in the 60s here on Fridays and nine rounds under par. He's only broken 70 once in the last seven years, however. Of course with scoring as difficult as it has been so far, anything under par should leave Woods in good position going into the weekend.
Rickie Fowler, Padraig Harrington, Jason Day, 1:52 p.m.: There was a lot to like about Fowler's opening 68 -- mostly that he had two double bogeys on the card and still shot 4 under. His aggressiveness could work against him, however, given the pin positions. Expect Day, who is 2 under, to stay in contention, too. His game fits this course well and two years ago he tied for second here.
Rickie Fowler overcame a shaky start to shoot 68 on Thursday (Redington/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Rickie Fowler opened his 2013 Masters with a double bogey on the first hole Thursday. Then he started his back nine in the first round with another double bogey at the 10th hole.
And the rest?
"Played 16 holes really well," Fowler said.
Indeed. He posted six birdies and one eagle to counteract his two bad holes to shoot a 4-under 68 at Augusta National. It's Fowler's lowest score in nine career Masters rounds.
He also becomes the first player since Raymond Floyd in 1992 to shoot in the 60s at the Masters with two double bogeys.
"Definitely some big setbacks," Fowler said of his two bogeys. "... Just had to stay in the moment and keep swinging."
Fowler bounced back from his opening double with a birdie at the second and eventually made the two at 2 under. He gave those two strokes back at the 10th when a bad swing left him with an unplayable lie. But he again bounced back with a birdie at the par-4 11th. He then eagled the par-5 15th and birdied the 17th.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
ORLANDO, Fla. -- After shooting 84 playing alongside Tiger Woods in the final round of last year's Memorial tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance, Rickie Fowler was looking for "a little redemption."
Instead, he got wet.
Trailing Woods by two with three to play at Bay Hill, Fowler hit his second shot, a 7-iron from 188 yards, on the par-5 "a little heavy." His ball, which was tracking directly at the flag, landed in the water short of the green.
Fowler took a drop and hit his next shot into the water, too, but by then it didn't matter.
"I was swinging it well, I made a few putts, and trying to put a little pressure on him, let him know I was there," Fowler said. "Just would like to have that 7‑iron back on 16.
"I had a perfect club there, so just unfortunate to make that swing at that time."
Fowler triple-bogeyed the hole and shot 73 to finish at 8 under, five shots back of Woods.
Despite the misstep, Fowler said he felt comfortable playing alongside Woods for the first time in a final pairing in the final round of a tournament.
It showed, mostly.
For the first 14 holes, Fowler made three birdies and no bogeys to stay within reach of Woods.
But just about every time Fowler made a move, Woods answered, including on the 12th hole, where Fowler poured in a 37-foot birdie putt only to watch Woods do the same from 10 feet closer moments later.
Two holes later, Fowler cut the deficit to two with another long birdie from just outside 20 feet.
On the par-4 15th, Fowler missed his approach left and couldn't get up and down for par, after his chip shot rolled 12 feet past the hole. Woods, however, made bogey as well and the margin stayed the same until the next hole.
For Fowler, it was the 15th straight start that he's made at least one double bogey (or worse) in the course of the week.
The timing of this one couldn't have been worse, though Fowler figured he needed eagle to have a chance.
"If I make three, he makes four, we cut it down to one, and a one‑shot lead for him going into the last two holes where there is a lot that can happen," Fowler said. "It was just unfortunate to catch that one a touch heavy."
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Last summer, Rickie Fowler and Tiger Woods played in the penultimate group in the final round of the Memorial tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance.
Fowler shot 84, Woods 67 as Woods went on to win.
Going into the final round here at Bay Hill, Fowler said he was looking for "a little redemtpion." So far, he hasn't backed down. Woods and Fowler are separated by just two shots with four to play here at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard.
We'll follow them down the stretch with updates below:
1:20 p.m.: Things just went from bad to worse for Fowler on the par-5 16th. After hitting his approach into the water on the par 5, he took a drop and hit a wedge fat, dumping it in the water again before making an 8 to fall back to 8 under and six back of Woods. Meanwhile, Woods two-putted for birdie and leads by three over Justin Rose.
1:10 p.m.: Trailing Woods by two, Fowler went at the flag on the par-5 16th but came up short, his ball finding the water and with it his chances for a win probably sinking. Plaing from a fairway bunker and 30 yards closer, Woods lashed it out, his tongue hanging out in Jordan-esque fashion, and watched as his ball landed on the green 35 feet from the hole.
12:58 p.m.: After both found trouble on their approaches on the 15th -- Woods landed in a greenside bunker right, then Fowler missed the green left -- each had 12 feet to salvage par. Fowler missed his save, but so did Woods. The lead is still two for Woods.
12:45 p.m.: Fowler just rolled in a 23-footer after sinking a 37-footer for birdie two holes earlier. Woods, meanwhile, managed just a par on No. 12 and his lead down to two.
Rickie Fowler stuck his tee shot at the par-3 second to tap-in distance.
Fowler opened with a 3-under 69 and enters the second round three shots back. (Ehrmann/Getty Images)
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
DORAL, Fla. -- Earlier this week, Rickie Fowler won Seminole Golf Club's Pro-Member for a third straight year, winning the gross division with a better-ball 64 with Buddy Marucci.
The two birdied eight of the last 11 holes to beat Luke List and Toby Wilt by a stroke.
"It's pretty cool," Fowler said. "It's got some history. I get to have my name up on the wall at Seminole. There’s something to be said for that."
There's also something to be said for how Fowler is playing right now.
He's coming off a tie for 13th at The Honda Classic and got off to a good start in the opening round of the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship with a 69 on Thursday that left him three shots off the lead (click here to follow him live on Friday).
Each of the last two years, Fowler has had some pretty hot stretches of golf.
Last year, he had four straight top 10s from April to May, which included his first PGA TOUR win (Wells Fargo Championship) and a runner-up the following week at THE PLAYERS Championship.
In 2011, he had a three-start stretch that included a tie for fifth at the British Open and a runner-up at the Memorial tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance.
Fowler tweaked his back last summer, however, and he has been bothered by it since.
He said it feels "pretty good" this week, which is an improvement from last week at PGA National, where he said it hurt with every swing.
As part of playing through it, Fowler re-evaluated his workout and treatment plan and it appears to be paying off.
"I'm definitely making progress with it," he said. "We're heading in the right direction, but it might take a while."
But as Fowler also pointed out, "it doesn't hurt as much when you play well."
After an 18 month hiatus, golf's favorite boy band is reuniting.
"Golf Boys", a group founded by PGA TOUR star Ben Crane, featuring Bubba Watson, Rickie Fowler and Hunter Mahan which parodies boy bands, have released their second song, “2.Oh”. The song was written by the golfers' friend and popular recording artist, Mat Kearney.
The first Golf Boys video, released in June of 2011, quickly became an Internet sensation and has amassed nearly 6 million views on YouTube. Aside from Tiger Woods-related videos, it's the most viewed video on the Internet featuring professional golfers.
An encore video was not originally planned, but fans begged for one relentlessly.
Crane, the unofficial band leader, reached out to Kearney, an avid golfer and friend from his college days in Eugene, OR, to help with the second song. Kearney set out to write a song that played off of the golfers’ individual style and personality, but also managed to name-drop numerous PGA TOUR stars including: Stewart Cink, Aaron Baddeley, Adam Scott, Ricky Barnes, Rory Sabbatini, Kevin Na, Jason Day, Louis Oosthuizen, Bo Van Pelt and Stuart Appleby.
“Ben and I have been friends for a long time,” says Kearney. “He mentioned they might do a new Golf Boys song, so I got off the phone and tried to come up with a hard hitting hip hop track. I thought using golfers’ names as puns would be pretty dang funny. I sat there for hours cracking myself up. How often do you get to write a rap for someone who's won the Masters?”
The video is on Ben Crane's YouTube Channel at www.youtube.com/bencranegolf
The Golf Boys use the videos to raise money for charity and hope to introduce a younger generation to the game of golf. For their second video, the Golf Boys are partnering with international aid organization, charity:water. 100% of proceeds from Golf Boys “2.Oh” will be dedicated to the construction of clean water wells in Ethiopia through charity:water. Since 2006, charity:water has been able to provide clean water to over 3.2 million people in 20 countries. The Golf Boys set up a fundraising page on the charity:water website so that fans can learn more about the cause and, if interested, contribute: www.mycharitywater.org/GolfBoys. "We are in a truly unique era," says Crane, "I love that we can goof off on YouTube and help people across the world. I'm all in for that."
Watson agrees. "We obviously don't have any profit motive here. We're just having fun and sharing a bit of our personality with fans. I think it's awesome that we will be able to provide clean water and awareness for our brothers and sisters in Ethiopia. If we can reach new fans and grow the game of golf in the process, that's a huge bonus.”
Historically, golf has had one of the older viewer demographics in sports, something that Crane feels provides an opportunity for Golf Boys.
"Tournament golf requires tremendous focus. We can't show raw personality in competition like other sports,” says Crane. “I think making these videos has helped make us more relatable to a demographic that might not otherwise be attracted to golf. As professional golfers, we’re sort of caretakers of the game. There is nothing wrong with being an older sport, but we want to do our best to grow it. The easiest way to do that is by engaging younger fans.”
Crane created a YouTube channel in September of 2010 after filming a popular workout parody video as a favor for a friend. The video went "viral" around the golf community and Crane was encouraged to start a regular series. Since that time, Crane has released numerous videos poking fun at his supposed insecurities such as his pace of play, pre-round routine and rapid hair loss. In January of 2013, Crane's YouTube channel passed Lebron James to become the second most-viewed YouTube channel of any active athlete. Crane doesn't profit from the viewership, as the channel is “owned” by he and his wife’s foundation and any revenue received is donated to charities that they support.
“On a personal level, social media has done a lot to change the perception of who I am,” says Crane. “I think I’ve been able to show fans a different side of myself and other pro golfers. I’m a golfer, first and foremost, but spending one day every few months to create a video that raises money for charity and might grow the game is too good of an opportunity to pass up.”