Fowler in 5-way tie for morning Wells Fargo lead

By Doug FergusonMay 3, 2012, 7:35 pm

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Rickie Fowler is starting to hear chatter about why he hasn't won on the PGA Tour. He hopes it won't be long before he no longer has to listen.

One week after he gave himself a chance in New Orleans, Fowler played a clean round of 6-under 66 on Thursday and was part of a five-way tie for the lead among early starters at the Wells Fargo Championship.

Fowler played with such control that he never came close to a bogey. His longest par putt was 4 feet.

''I feel that I'm good enough to win,'' Fowler said. ''I definitely feel like the amount of people expecting or thinking that I can win is a compliment. I'm not too worried about the talk that goes on about when my first win is coming, but it's my main goal, and that's what I'm focused on.''

Fowler was joined at 66 by John Senden, Brian Davis, D.A. Points and Patrick Reed, who earn a spot through Monday qualifying for the second straight tournament. He tied for 24th last week in New Orleans. Nearly one third of the morning wave broke 70.

Phil Mickelson was trying to edge closer to the morning leaders until he hit a tee shot out-of-bounds on the fourth hole and made triple bogey. He recovered for a 71. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy played in the afternoon under scorching temperatures at Quail Hollow.

Fowler has been a marketing machine since he turned pro in the fall of 2009 and lost in a three-man playoff during the Fall Series. He has had a few good chances to win, such as the Phoenix Open in 2010 and the AT&T National last year. He did well enough to make the Ryder Cup team as the last of four captain's picks in 2010, and he showed his promise on the last day by winning the last four holes to earn a halve.

He just doesn't have a trophy – at least not on his home tour.

Fowler won the Korea Open last year over McIlroy, and he hopes it will lead to bigger things. And he was motivated last month when he watched good friend Bubba Watson pull off a spectacular shot out of the woods to win the Masters in a playoff.

Fowler didn't just watch, he was there. He joined Ben Crane and Aaron Baddeley on the course, and they were among the first on the green to share in an emotional moment for Watson.

''I might have been more nervous than he was there,'' Fowler said. ''It was a lot of fun to be there. Obviously, being one of my best buddies ... and having Ben and Badds there as well, just kind of getting to see kind of the moments from outside the ropes and see what was going on coming down the stretch, I definitely took a lot away from it.

''More the feeling that I want to be in that position. Instead of Bubba winning, I want to win. Maybe he'll let me win one soon.''

Watson isn't at Quail Hollow, which doesn't make the week any easier.

The tournament attracted another strong field on a Quail Hollow course rated among the best on the PGA Tour schedule. Without much wind, and with warm weather in the morning, it yielded plenty of low scores.

That's not to say everyone played great, even if they were happy with their scores.

Fowler had a birdie putt on every hole except the par-4 ninth, when he came up just short and chipped to 2 feet. Davis, the Englishman who has never won on tour, hit only six fairways and 11 greens, yet he wound up with the same score.

''I absolutely hit it awful tee-to-green. It was just terrible,'' Davis said. ''I got away with everything. I chipped and putted like hell today, and things go your way. Things like that can make a difference. We'll go to the range this afternoon and try and iron out a few flaws in our swing, but obviously delighted to get in at 66 and build on that momentum.''

The surprise in the group was Reed, a 21-year-old who helped lead Augusta State to another NCAA title last summer. He was trying to Monday qualify for the Texas Open when he was told in the middle of his round he had received an exemption. Then, it was off to New Orleans to Monday qualifying and he moved up the leaderboard with five birdies on the back nine. He made it through yet another qualifier and landed atop the leaderboard.

''This round was all because of the confidence I've had for the past month that's gone on,'' Reed said.

He felt so good that he attacked with driver on just about every hole, leaving him shorter irons into the greens and plenty of birdie chances.

''Whenever you can do that, you feel a lot more confident,'' he said. ''Next thing you know, 6 under and tied for the lead.''

But it's just one round, a long way from winning. Fowler can attest to that as he enters his third full season.

And there was no guarantee it would be enough to stay in the lead. Ryan Moore already was at 5 under with six holes remaining, while Webb Simpson chipped in for eagle on the short par-4 eighth hole and was 5 under.

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Woods talks about Ryder Cup prospects in third person

By Ryan LavnerAugust 21, 2018, 1:47 pm

Conversations between Jim Furyk and Tiger Woods have gotten a little awkward.

That’s what happens when Woods, the U.S. Ryder Cup vice captain, needs to assess the prospects of Woods, the player.

“We’re talking about myself in the third person a lot,” he said with a chuckle Tuesday at the Northern Trust Open. “That’s one of the most interesting conversations I’ve ever had and I’m having a lot of fun with it.

“I’m one of the guys on the short list, and sometimes I have to pull myself out of there and talk about myself in the third person, which is a little odd.”

The Northern Trust: Articles, photos and videos

After placing second at the PGA Championship, Woods finished 11th on the U.S. points list with just eight months of tournament results. Three of Furyk’s four captain’s picks will be announced after the BMW Championship in three weeks, and barring a late injury, it’s almost a certainty that Woods will be one of those selected.

Still, Woods was named in February as an assistant for his third consecutive team competition, even though he told Furyk at the beginning of the year that he envisioned himself as a player on the 2018 squad.

“I’m very close to making that happen,” he said. “It’s been a long year, and that’s been one of my goals, to make the team. To be a part of that team you have to be one of the 12 best players, and I’m trending toward that.”

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Woods on busy schedule: 'It's about pacing myself'

By Ryan LavnerAugust 21, 2018, 1:34 pm

At the beginning of the year, Tiger Woods was anxious to see how his fused back would hold up to tournament play.

Now he’s in the midst of one of his busiest stretches in years.

With the Tour Championship and Ryder Cup likely to be added to his schedule over the next few weeks, Woods could play seven events in a nine-week span.

The Northern Trust: Articles, photos and videos

“That is a lot of golf,” he said Tuesday at The Northern Trust. “It’s about pacing myself and making sure I don’t practice too much, don’t overdo it and make sure my training schedule goes well.

“One of the hardest things this year has been finding the right balance. As the summer has gone on, I’ve gotten better and felt better. This is a pretty important stretch.”

Woods has already played 14 events – his most since 2013, when he had 16 starts.

He’s committed to playing the first three playoff events, beginning with this week’s event in New Jersey. There’s a week off after the BMW Championship, and at No. 20 in the FedExCup standings, Woods doesn’t need to do much to punch his ticket to East Lake. He’s also virtually assured of being a U.S. captain’s pick for the Ryder Cup, held in France the week after the Tour Championship.

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Tiger Tracker: The Northern Trust

By Tiger TrackerAugust 21, 2018, 1:00 pm

Tiger Woods begins his FedExCup Playoffs run at this week's Northern Trust. We're tracking him at Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, N.J.

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Stock Watch: Will Bjorn buy or sell slumping Sergio?

By Ryan LavnerAugust 21, 2018, 12:07 pm

Each week on, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.


Sneds (+9%): It doesn’t always happen, a Tour player shooting 59 and then finishing it off with a W, so it was satisfying to watch Brandt Snedeker go wire to wire at the Wyndham. An in-form Sneds now should edge out Kevin Kisner for one of Jim Furyk’s final captain picks.

Viktor Hovland (+6%): Watching the Oklahoma State junior maul the field at the U.S. Amateur, a question arose: How does the fifth-ranked player in the world not win more often? The U.S. Am was just his second title, anywhere, outside of Norway. That could all change, after he proved to himself that he could handle the best field and the stiffest challenge.

Lexi (+4%): She once again was penalized – for playing preferred lies in a different fairway – but Thompson still shot 17 under and tied for 12th in her first start since a self-imposed break to recharge her batteries. In the media tent she was refreshingly honest about the difficulties of being a 23-year-old superstar who never went to college and whose life is consumed by golf. Here’s hoping she can find a better balance (like, say, Michelle Wie) over the next few years.

Tyler McCumber (+3%): The world rankings don’t reflect it, but McCumber is playing the best golf of anyone in the world right now. In his past four starts on the Canadian circuit, he’s gone win-win-3rd-win and shot 90 under par with a scoring average of 65.88 and just two rounds higher than 68.

Nick Taylor (+1%): Playing for his Tour card, Taylor shot a bogey-free 63 Sunday at the Wyndham – with an eagle and birdie in his last four holes – to jump from 129th to 119th in the standings. That’s clutch.


Billy Hurley III (-1%): A winner two years ago at Tiger’s event, Hurley is now headed back to second stage of Q-School after finishing 201st in the standings – by a point. A tough break for one of the game’s good dudes.

Kevin Stadler (-2%): He reminded us of the dangers of slamming clubs, after the head of his 7-iron flew off and struck a spectator in the head, requiring stitches. It was a scary scene – “It’s been a while since I’ve seen so much blood,” said playing partner Shaun Micheel – that could have been even worse.

Sepp Straka (-3%): There were plenty of stories of heartbreak at the Tour regular-season finale, perhaps none as crushing as Straka, who went 5 over for his last seven holes (including three consecutive bogeys to finish) to drop outside of the top-25 bubble.

Sergio (-4%): At last, some signs of life – his tie for 24th in Greensboro was his best finish on Tour since March – but he still didn’t make the playoffs, and it still might not be enough to sway Thomas Bjorn. For the captain it may come down to a question like this: Who would you rather have in Paris, Sergio or Russell Knox?