Fowler surges closer to lead at OHL Classic
November 10, 2017
By Cameron Morfit, PGATOUR.COM
Rickie Fowler dials it in at OHL Classic at Mayakoba
PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Mexico – The skies opened and the rain came to delay the OHL Classic at Mayakoba, but amid the umbrellas and the puddles the headliner hung tough. First-time participant Rickie Fowler, the highest ranked player in the field (10), is contending in his first start in five weeks and his first start of the new season.
Fowler had three holes remaining and was just one shot off the lead, tied with first-round leader Patton Kizzire (70). They were chasing Patrick Rodgers, who birdied four straight holes to take the lead at 11 under but still had three holes left to play on the front nine when darkness fell over El Camaleon Golf Club. Heavy rain suspended afternoon play for two hours and 15 minutes.
“Today was tough,” said Kizzire, who double-bogeyed the first hole, his 10th of the day. “I had a few hiccups out there, but with the wind and the rain and with the wind and rain together, it was tough. And the stop and start was tough. But I hung in there, made a few birdies there towards the end of my round, and then survived that really tough rain that we had there at the end.”
Fowler was on the 15th tee when he asked how much longer players would be expected to stay on the course as darkness fell. He made par on the hole before play was stopped and players were driven away in vans. Four players have won the OHL Classic in their first start in the event: Johnson Wagner (2011), John Huh (2012), Harris English (2013) and Fred Funk (2007).
HARKINS HANGS TOUGH. The last six holes played by Brandon Harkins, 31, went birdie, bogey, birdie, bogey, birdie, bogey. “Wasn't quite the finish I was looking for, trading birdies and bogeys like that,” said Harkins, who shot 68 to get to 9 under. “But you know, I really can't complain in the wind like this.” Harkins has already shown plenty of bounce-back. He twice missed 72nd-hole putts to force playoffs on the Web.com Tour last year, but finished 21st on the Regular Season Money List to get his TOUR card. Now he’s looking to improve on a T9 at the Safeway Open and a T20 at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.
GAY MAKES LIKE 2008. Four-time TOUR winner Brian Gay will turn 46 next month and is making his 522nd career start. He sure didn’t seem to have lost his edge Friday. Gay was five-for-five in scrambling and shot a bogey-free 65 that included an eagle at the par-5 13th hole. He got his first win at Mayakoba in 2008, but hasn’t won since the 2013 CareerBuilder Challenge. After getting to 9-under overall Gay said, “I’ve always loved it since we started coming here.” He began last season on a Major Medical Extension, needing to earn 309 FedExCup points or $461,851 in 14 starts to remain exempt for the rest of the season. He accomplished that with back-to-back T6 finishes at the RBC Heritage and Valero Texas Open.
RODGERS SEEKS FIRST WIN. The only player in the field so far without a bogey, Rodgers is beginning his third season on TOUR after a stellar college career. He won 11 times in three years at Stanford, tying Tiger Woods’ win total, accomplished in two years, and compiled a 70.32 scoring average, breaking Woods’ all-time school mark of 70.96. One of the TOUR’s biggest fitness fanatics, Rodgers finished 78th in the FedExCup last season, his best result a runner-up finish at the John Deere Classic, where he led through 36 holes. He is coming off a missed cut at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in his fourth start of the new season.
CEJKA LOOKS FOR REDEMPTION. Alex Cejka (67, 6 under) is in contention again after losing a three-man playoff at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open last week. The week before that, Cejka got caught up in an odd rules scenario. He was disqualified from the Sanderson Farms Championship for holing a tap-in putt on his final hole of the second round after the siren had sounded for a suspension of play due to a dangerous weather situation.
SI WOO KIM – Up and down year since becoming the youngest winner of THE PLAYERS Championship in May, but the two-time TOUR winner is lurking at 7 under after a 68.
OSCAR FRAUSTRO – A wild start for the low Mexican so far as Fraustro went 5 under for his first four holes on the way to a 66. He’s 7 under at the halfway mark. Fraustro and Carlos Oritz tied for ninth here in 2014, the best-ever finish by a Mexican player in this tournament.
RYAN ARMOUR – Just a few weeks removed from nabbing his first win at 41, Armour shot a second-round 69 to get to 5 under and is six back.
ZAC BLAIR – Came to El Camaleon as an alternate and was last man in the field, but will play on the weekend after going 3 under for his last 11 holes to shoot 68 and make the cut at 2 under.
ROBERTO DIAZ – The last player to graduate from the Web.com Tour, Diaz is making the most of it at Mayakoba. His second-round 65 left him at 6 under, five back.
“No comment.” – Cal State-Chico graduate Brandon Harkins (68, 9 under), when asked if his alma-mater lived up to its party-school reputation.
Shot of the day: Jonathan Byrd aced the 151-yard eighth hole, the fifth ace of his TOUR career. His most famous hole-in-one came in a playoff at the 2010 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.
CALL OF THE DAY
SHOT OF THE DAY
Shot of the Day
Jonathan Byrd throws down an ace at OHL Classic at Mayakoba
BEST OF SOCIAL MEDIA
Nine holes— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) November 10, 2017