May 12 2012
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- After missing the cut in two previous appearances at THE PLAYERS Championship, Rickie Fowler’s main goal was to make it to the weekend.
Mission accomplished; now he’ll try to win for the second time in as many weeks.
Fowler shot a 3-under 69 Friday and enters the weekend just five shots off the lead.
Three years ago, that was the deficit facing Henrik Stenson going into the final round. He shot 66 and won. Fowler still has two rounds to play, and he seems to be riding the momentum of his first career PGA TOUR win a week ago at the Wells Fargo Championship.
“The game is good and I’ve been swinging well,” Fowler said. “It was fun playing with Tiger and kind of going back and forth like we did and feeding off each other to help get some rounds together.”
Fowler did that with four straight birdies in the middle of his round to match Woods, starting on the par-5 ninth hole, where he laid up and hit a wedge to 10 feet.
Over the next three holes, Fowler hit every approach inside that distance.
Then things got, uh, interesting.
Fowler followed with bogeys on Nos. 13 and 14 before bouncing back with a birdie on the par-5 16th and another on the iconic par-3 17th, where he hit pitching wedge to 8 feet before making the putt.
A bogey on the final hole, where Fowler missed a 6-footer for par, put a damper on an otherwise good round. But Fowler still left with a tee time on the weekend here for the first time in his career.
“It was nice to kind of get into a rhythm and get some momentum going there on the back nine,” said Fowler, who missed just three greens in regulation. “I’ve been driving it well all year and am finally getting some iron shots closer to the hole and making some birdies.
“I was focusing on the back nine making sure we were going to give ourselves a chance this weekend.”
He certainly has that.