Fowler fires up fans Friday in Phoenix
A second-round 68 puts him one back of leader James Hahn heading into the weekend
February 05, 2016
- February 05, 2016
- For the second straight day, Rickie Fowler hit nine of 14 fairways in regulation and 14 of 18 greens. (Chris Condon/PGA TOUR)
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- A few observations following the second round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, where James Hahn leads by one over Rickie Fowler and Danny Lee. For more on all the action, click here to read the Daily Wrap-Up.
1. FOWLER’S CONFIDENCE SOARING: A few weeks ago, Rickie Fowler won in Abu Dhabi against a field that included Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy. For Fowler, the confidence boost has been tangible.
It has also helped with taking another step in his progression. Friday, Fowler shot 68 to put himself in contention again.
“To go around and not feel like I was playing my best but to get the most out of it and continue to move forward that week, that was big,” Fowler said of his victory last month in the desert. “That was my first win being out front. To go out and feel as comfortable as I did and kind of control my destiny definitely made me feel more comfortable coming into here this week.”
In the second round, Fowler hit 14 greens. He’s also sixth in the field in strokes gained putting and though he bogeyed 17 he bounced back with a birdie on 18, hitting his approach to 2 feet.
“It's one of my favorite events having the loud crowd out there,” he said. “Hopefully we'll give them a reason to get loud.”
More and more, he has been.
Rickie Fowler interview after Round 2 of Waste Management
2. EASY SWITCH FOR HAHN: Changing equipment used to be a big deal. It took time for players to adjust.
That doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. Players have been able to do it quicker -- James Hahn needed just a few weeks.
“The transition from TaylorMade to PXG has been really easy,” he said after a 65 on Friday. “Really, the very first day I picked up a PXG driver, 3-wood, irons, the ball is going where I want it to go. I'm swinging well. That definitely helps.”
Six birdies and no bogeys along with ranking second in the field in strokes gained tee-to-green are evidence of the latter.
Hahn also resides 10 minutes from TPC Scottsdale, has played plenty of practice rounds at the course and is just 15 minutes from PXG’s headquarters.
“It was very comfortable for me to make a decision and switch over, knowing that, you know, the numbers, when I'm swinging it well, that the numbers are exactly the same,” he said. “If I have any problems with the irons or the wedges or the 3-wood, I can just pop my head in and he will be able to fix it for me.”
3. HIDEKI SEEKING REDEMPTION: Last season, Hideki Matsuyama had five top-5 finishes, including a runner-up at TPC Scottsdale.
The latter still stings.
Matsuyama shot a final-round 67, Brooks Koepka 66 and Koepka won by one over the Japanese star.
“Last year, you know, finishing second hurt a lot,” Matsuyama said. “You don't get many chances to win here on TOUR, and finally maybe I do have a chance this week. So I hope I can play my best to erase those regrets, I guess, from last year.”
Through two rounds, Matsuyama, who will turn 24 later this month, is in position to do that after a 1-under 70 on Friday to enter the weekend just three shots off the lead.
The thing that has helped him the most: Short game. Matsuyama is 15th in the field in putting and on Friday got up-and-down five of eight times.
4. CUT STILL TO COME: Because of an hour-long frost delay at the start of play on Thursday, players have been playing catch-up ever since.
There were four players still on the course when play was called for darkness on Friday. Play will resume at 8 a.m. local time.
The cut is currently at even par with 70 players at level or better. Once the round is complete, players will go off in threesomes off both tees between approximately 9 and 11 a.m.
5. THE BEST (AND WORST) OF NO. 16: For a second straight day the par-3 16th played as the 10th most difficult hole with a scoring average of 3.069.
The best shot there on Friday came from Whee Kim, who hit it to a foot for an easy birdie.
The worst? Tyler Aldridge, whose ball settled nearly 40 yards short of the pin. He chipped up to 12 feet and missed the putt.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
I felt obligated to give them 10 push-ups. It was well-deserved for them. They came out to watch the gun show, so I popped them out right there on the tee box.
CALL OF THE DAY
Rickie Fowler’s fantastic approach sets up birdie at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
Free play-by-play coverage of the third round streams from 1-6 p.m. ET Saturday on PGATOUR.COM.
SHOT OF THE DAY
Shot of the Day
Jack Maguire's magical hole-in-one is the Shot of the Day
BEST OF SOCIAL MEDIA
Tough not playing the weekend at one of my favorite events. Always a fun week though with these awesome crowds 😃 Thanks @WasteManagement!— Tony Finau Golf (@tonyfinaugolf) February 6, 2016