It took awhile, but Rickie Fowler finally got it going at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.
Fowler spent much of the first two rounds in Las Vegas on the wrong side of the cut line, but he caught fire down the stretch Friday, shooting a back-nine 30 to secure a weekend tee time.
After a 1-over 72 that he described as "horrible," Fowler made the turn in even and stood at 1 over, four shots outside the projected cut. From there, though, his putter caught fire as Fowler shot a second-round 65. Now 5 under, he not only survived the cut but moved onto the fringe of contention.
Fowler's run began with a short birdie on No. 10. He added a 26-foot make on No. 12 before dropping a bomb on the par-5 13th, holing a 79-foot eagle putt from across the green.
He poured in another birdie on No. 15, but his progress nearly unraveled after a wayward drive and poor pitch-out attempt on the par-5 16th. Fowler scrambled to save par, holing a 20-footer, and capped his rally with a 12-foot birdie on No. 18.
In total, Fowler holed 155 feet worth of putts over his final seven holes to move within six shots of Brett Stegmaier, who was still on the course when Fowler completed his second round.
"Started to play a little bit more aggressive, tried to go after some pins and give myself some chances at birdies. I've been swinging all right, didn't hit the center of the club face a whole lot yesterday," Fowler said. "Finally got a few things to go my way. Nice to have a tee time tomorrow."
Fowler is the highest-ranked player (No. 5) in this week's field, and his record in Las Vegas includes a T-4 finish in 2009. After going 1-3 in the Presidents Cup, he was eager to get back to competition and spent some time earlier this week with swing coach Butch Harmon, who lives minutes away from this week's venue.
"Being able to come up here and see Butch, it's convenient that the tournament is here, too," he said. "Looking forward to a good weekend. Definitely have to tighten things up. ...Didn't have the best Presidents Cup showing, so it was nice to see a little bit of that start to pay off on this back nine."
While the lengthy eagle putt on No. 13 turned the tide, Fowler pointed to the par save on No. 16 as a key to his late-round comeback.
"Took a little bit of stress off," he said. "If I make bogey there, it makes the last two holes a little harder. I was able to go at [Nos.] 17 and 18 a little freer-minded, tried to make some good swings and not just hold on."