Rickie Fowler made just one bogey during his third-round 67. (Carr/Getty Images)
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
ARDMORE, Pa. -- Rickie Fowler had two playing partners for Saturday's third round of the U.S. Open. One of them, Sergio Garcia, recorded a 10 at the par-4 15th en route to shooting 75. The other one, Robert Karlsson, shot a 16-over 86 that included one triple bogey, three doubles and eight bogeys.
Luckily for Fowler, he didn't catch whatever was ailing Garcia and Karlsson.
The 24-year-old posted a 3-under 67 to move to 3 over for the tournament, which puts him in sniffing distance of the lead for Sunday's final round at Merion. Unlike the others on the front page of the leaderboard, Fowler started his round off the 11th tee instead of the first, a byproduct of starting the round at 6 over.
The 67 is Fowler's lowest score in his 15 career rounds at the U.S. Open. The only previous time he shot a round in the 60s in this major was a 68 in the second round in 2009.
"Finally just kind of pieced everything together," said Fowler. "I played well the first day scoring; I had a few holes get away from me. Yesterday I just had a bad stretch and today I just made a few putts to keep the round going.
"I swung it well, drove it a little better, and stayed out of the rough as much as possible. So definitely feels good to be done with the round and sitting here and getting ready for tomorrow's round."
Despite the struggles of his playing partners, Fowler said he never felt any bad vibes.
"I could never tell that they were having terrible days," Fowler said. "Sergio obviously made a nice comeback and Robert (had) just one of those days, but it was fun to be around the guys. It says a lot about who they are, just the way they handle themselves around me when I was playing well and they were struggling."
Unlike many others in the field, Fowler has played in a pressure-packed event at Merion prior to this week. He was on the U.S. Walker Cup team in 2009 and went 4-0 that week in his matches.
He'll draw on that experience Sunday.
"I've played well here before," Fowler said. "I know I've made putts here. The biggest thing this week has just been staying patient, sitting back and letting things happen and I finally was able to do that today."