SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – With his round stalling and his chances to win the Waste Management Phoenix Open slowly drifting away, Rickie Fowler went back into the memory bank for inspiration.
Fowler entered the third round with a share of the lead, but he made the turn in even par on a day when ideal scoring conditions led to plenty of birdies from the other leaders. He fell as many as three shots behind early on the back nine, at which point he called upon his experience at The Players Championship in 2015 when he salvaged his third round en route to the biggest win of his career.
“I was looking back to kind of The Players Saturday that I had when I won, I turned the round that could have been a 74 or a 75 into, I think I shot 71 that day,” Fowler said. “Just staying patient and not trying to force anything, or not feeling like you’re too far behind to catch up. So that was big today.”
True to his words, Fowler quickly turned patience into productivity. While he would later point back to his first birdie of the day on No. 8 as a momentum starter, it was his closing stretch of three straight birdies that moved him back into sole possession of the lead at 14 under, one shot ahead of Bryson DeChambeau, Jon Rahm and Chez Reavie.
Fowler will now look to build upon his late birdie run as he looks for his first win since the Honda Classic nearly a year ago.
“To make the putts I did coming in and to actually start getting some looks were big,” Fowler said. “That’s what I was doing, staying patient and waiting for that to happen. Glad that we were able to finish off with something good and get some momentum going for tomorrow.”