PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – From the moment their names were announced on the opening tee, not much went right for the final pairing during the third round of the Honda Classic.
Rickie Fowler and Jimmy Walker occupied the top two spots in the standings through 36 holes at PGA National, but Saturday the pair combined to shoot 13 over par while making a total of two birdies.
Walker, who was mistakenly introduced to the crowd as “Jimmy Fowler” on the first tee box, ballooned to a 9-over 79 that included a 14-hole stretch from Nos. 4-17 in which he was 11 over. Walker declined to talk to the media after his round, and at 2-over 212 he now trails co-leaders Sergio Garcia and Adam Scott by 11 shots.
Fowler entered the day as the tournament’s sole leader, having played his first two rounds without recording a bogey. That streak ended when he rinsed his approach to the par-5 third hole, and Fowler failed to make a single birdie during a 4-over 74 – his first birdie-free scorecard in 20 rounds on the PGA Tour.
“Got a couple bad breaks, but that’s going to happen. I had some good breaks the first couple days,” Fowler said. “Still swung it all right, made a couple bad swings, but just couldn’t get the right reads and struggled on the greens.”
Fowler needed 34 putts to complete his round, eight more than he took during a second-round 66.
“I felt like I hit a lot of good putts, got the speed somewhat dialed in, but just wasn’t seeing them right,” he said. “Obviously with nothing going in it’s hard to get any momentum or anything going from there.”
At 4 under, Fowler now trails by five shots entering the final round. He still believes he has a chance to win despite the deficit, drawing similarities between Saturday’s effort and a third-round 71 that preceded his dramatic playoff win at The Players last year.
“All in all with it being as bad as it was, I mean I definitely didn’t play as bad as I scored, and I’m not out of it,” he said. “It’s a fine line out here, especially at this course. You can shoot 4 over a lot quicker than you can shoot 4 under.”