PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. - Rickie Fowler shot 6-under 66 at TPC Sawgrass' Stadium Course on Saturday to get into contention for a second career PGA Tour win and back-to-back victories. He won last week at the Wells Fargo Championship.
'I put myself in position off the tee,' he said, 'which is key here no matter what, but especially with the wind blowing today. I was able to play out of the short grass as much as possible.'
The Oklahoma State product only hit eight of 14 fairways, but avoided big mistakes to reach 9 under for the tournament. Hitting 16 greens in regulation, he made seven birdies on the round. The only sour note was the last, making bogey at the 18th hole for the third consecutive round.
Simply making the cut this week would have been an achievement for Fowler.
'Coming into this week, kind of the goal was to get into the weekend since I had not been here before,' he said.
If Fowler wins on Sunday, he would supplant 2004 champion Adam Scott as the youngest Players winner at 23 years, 4 months and 30 days. Fred Couples (1984) was the only other champion here to win on his third try after, who like Fowler, missed the cut in his first two Sawgrass starts.
Fowler would also become the first player to win in consecutive weeks on the PGA Tour since Tiger Woods did so in 2009 when he took the Buick Open and WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
'It's trying to make the most of playing well,' Fowler said.
Woods, a fellow member with Fowler at Medalist CC, compared Fowler's breakthrough to what a win at Kingsmill did for David Duval in 1997. It was the first of 11 wins over the course of three seasons. Duval, who won here in 1999 as part of that run, was the last player to win his first two PGA Tour events in back-to-back weeks, winning at Disney after the Kingsmill victory.
Before Fowler can join this illustrious company with win No. 2 on Sunday, however, he faces an uphill battle.
'It's not easy,' Woods said. 'There's a lot of guys, 156 guys. You've got to beat 155 guys in guys in back-to-back weeks, which is tough.'