Fowler in position to again win on Mother's Day

By Rex HoggardMay 7, 2016, 11:17 pm

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Rickie Fowler is making Mother’s Day increasingly hard for sons everywhere.

Last year on Mother’s Day, the golden child rallied from five-shots down with six holes to play to win The Players in an overtime for the ages; and on Saturday at the Wells Fargo Championship he moved into the lead with a similar charge to set the stage for a second consecutive unforgettable Mother’s Day for Lynn Fowler.

There aren’t enough roses in Charlotte to compete with that kind of largesse.

Fowler did the lion’s share of his work in a pair of three-hole sprints, playing Nos. 8-10 in 3 under par and claiming his spot in Sunday’s final group with a second birdie trifecta at Nos. 14-16 to move to 9 under par.

The favorite son moved into the lead and a shot clear of Roberto Castro and Andrew Loupe with a 4-under 68, salvaging an event that was in danger of being transformed into a pre-Players afterthought bereft of superstars.

“The meat of our schedule is from now until September,” Fowler said. “If you could pick a time to play well, I guess you would pick this time of year to go. This time of year has been good to me.”

For the week, Fowler is first in strokes gained-tee to green, fourth in fairways hit, third in greens in regulation and he picked up 2.634 strokes on the greens on Saturday thanks to his birdie barrages.

The 2012 champion at Quail Hollow rolled in birdie putts of 5 feet (No. 8), 16 feet (No. 9) and 8 feet (No. 10) to make his move. After dropping shots at the 11th and 13th holes, both the byproduct of missed greens, he added birdies at Nos. 14 (4 feet after driving the green), 15 (2 feet) and 16 (27 feet).

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Perhaps the most telling part of Fowler’s play this week is the state of his game. Following a first-round 80 and missed cut at the Masters and a tie for 20th last week at the weather-delayed Zurich Classic, he conceded that he’s struggling to turn the ball from right-to-left with his driver, which most players will tell you is a prerequisite for many holes at Quail Hollow.

“I haven't had my best tee to green,” Fowler admitted. “I've definitely missed some short putts as well so I'm looking forward to cleaning it up even more tomorrow.”

But that’s the difference with Rickie 2.0. Before he teamed with Butch Harmon in late 2013 that type of inability to move the ball in the proper direction would have kept him from contending, but as his results have improved so has his ability to improvise.

His maiden PGA Tour victory here in 2012 against Rory McIlroy in extra holes may have been his breakthrough, but it was the steady progression he’s made toward consistency since he started working with Harmon that has given him the confidence needed to score well even if the swing isn’t perfect.

“From about a year ago to two years ago to where I'm at right now, whether it's being in the final group or having a chance to win, being in contention, it's completely different,” Fowler said. “Now it's fun to go out there and go take care of business.”

It seems like a lifetime ago that Fowler made an impressive statement with his Players victory just days after an anonymous player poll named him the Tour’s most overrated.

In the 12 months since that slight Fowler has added another Tour win (Deutsche Bank Championship) and two European Tour titles (Scottish Open and Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship).

He’s also solidified himself as a bona fide star capable of carrying a leaderboard with his play as well as his panache and millennial appeal, which is fortunate because many of the game’s other standard-bearers seemed to take the week off.

McIlroy shot his second 73 of the week on Saturday and appears to be a clean 18 holes away from finding his winning form. He was tied with Adam Scott a touchdown shy of Fowler; while Phil Mickelson has been, well Phil Mickelson, posting a 4-over 76 on Day 3 that included the same number of birdies and bogeys (three) and a closing quadruple bogey-8 that assured the left-hander will not win the Wells Fargo Championship, again.

Fowler’s current confidence aside, Sunday will be a new scenario for him. In his three Tour victories the 27-year-old has come from behind in each and Quail Hollow, which is playing more than a stroke over par this week, is not exactly the kind of place that favors a defensive touch.

But if Fowler was concerned with this different perspective he wasn’t letting on, explaining the difference between his game now and in 2012, “The belief in the game and knowing what I'm capable of now,” he said.

At last year’s Players Lynn Fowler had to scramble back to TPC Sawgrass from a local airport to watch her son’s victory, but considering the ease her son is dismantling an increasingly difficult Quail Hollow there will be no early exit on Sunday.

“She’s flying with me to The Players, so she’s good,” Fowler smiled.

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Storms halt Barbasol before Lincicome tees off

By Associated PressJuly 20, 2018, 11:29 pm

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - Brittany Lincicome will have to wait until the weekend to resume her bid to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.

Overnight storms delayed the start of the second round Friday in the Barbasol Championship, and an afternoon thunderstorm suspended competition for good. The round will resume Saturday morning with much of the field still to play.

The second stoppage at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came 20 minutes before Lincicome's scheduled tee time.

Lincicome was near the bottom of the field after opening with a 6-over 78 on Thursday. The first LPGA player since Michelle Wie in 2008 to start a PGA Tour event, she needs a huge rebound to join Babe Zaharias (1945) as the only female players to make the cut.

Troy Merritt had the clubhouse lead at 15 under, following an opening 62 with a 67.

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Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.

Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.

Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.

4:15AM ET: Gavin Green

4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed

4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose

4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton

4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley

5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner

5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson

5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)

5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood

5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello

6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford

6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma

6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood

6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na

6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin

7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim

7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira

7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters

7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li

7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker

7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink

8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook

8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris

8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim

8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari

8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson

8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell

9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka

9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott

9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren

9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone

9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett

10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler

10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell

10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen

10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood

11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson

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Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

“There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

“I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

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Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

“I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

“It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

“I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”