Fairways And Roughs Title

Fowler on the verge of redemption at WMPO

By PGA Tour News
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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Rickie Fowler, who two years ago was left heartbroken after a four-hole sudden-death playoff loss to Hideki Matsuyama, is back in contention for his first Waste Management Phoenix Open title after a third-round 67. Fowler finished second here in 2010, as well, and finished T4 last year. He was stuck in neutral for much of the third round but birdied the last three holes to shoot 67 and get to 14-under, one up on Jon Rahm (65), Chez Reavie (67) and Bryson DeChambeau (68). “Today was just about staying patient,” Fowler said. Three-time Waste Management champion Phil Mickelson (66) is part of a trio of players lurking two shots back. Mickelson is trying to win for the first time since 2013, and is one of three Arizona State products among the top seven. Fowler birdied the eighth hole to salvage an even-par front nine, and finally found something on the back, where he shot 4-under. He said he was reminded of his thrilling victory at THE PLAYERS Championship 2015, when he seemed to be going nowhere in the third round but kept it together to give himself a chance the next day. “I turned a round that could have been 74 or 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 and trying to catch up. So that was big today.” There are 17 players within four of the lead, and Justin Thomas proved a reminder how quickly things can change at TPC Scottsdale. Starting the day four shots off the lead, he birdied the first six holes and led by two before his round unraveled (see below). Fowler cites the last six holes as the key here, what with so many birdie opportunities. As for the prospect of finally winning in Phoenix, those close calls remain in the back of his mind. “It would just kind of be a long time coming, in a way,” Fowler said. “I know we can win here, we have obviously been in the position to do it, love playing this golf course, I know can I play it well, so it's just a matter of time. It would just be nice if it was sooner rather than later.” OBSERVATIONS MICKELSON MAKES CRAZY PAR: Phil Mickelson, who made five birdies and no bogeys for a 66 to get within two of Fowler’s lead, has been average by TOUR standards with the driver, but better than average for him. He has hit 24 of 42 fairways, tied for 27th best in the field. “It’s as good as I’ve seen his driving, definitely,” said playing partner and friend Jon Rahm. Quipped Mickelson: “Well, he’s only 23 years old.” Despite all that, Mickelson’s most memorable hole was the 10th. His missed his tee shot way left, and his second shot crossed the fairway, fore right. He waded into the crowd, which chanted his name, for his 61-yard third shot, which ended up just over 11 feet from the pin. He made the putt for a par. “The people were great, the police officers and the Thunderbirds did a great job,” Mickelson said. “But that was one of the most uncomfortable moments I can remember, with that many people and being swarmed like that.” THOMAS ROUND GOES OFF RAILS: When reigning FedExCup champion Justin Thomas birdied his first six holes to take the lead at 12-under, it was his best start on TOUR and the first time any player had started a round with six straight since Brendon Todd at the 2012 Puerto Rico Open. Alas, Thomas bogeyed the seventh and 11th holes, and his round disintegrated when he went bogey, triple-bogey, double-bogey on holes 14-16. He hooked his tee shot in the water at 15, but the most galling part may have been his missed 14-inch tap-in for bogey at the 16th hole. Thomas made his four-foot comebacker for double, birdied 17 and made par on 18 for an even-par 71 that featured eight birdies, three bogeys, a double-bogey, a triple-bogey, and five pars. Brandt Snedeker made 18 straight pars and shot the same score Saturday. HOSSLER HEALTHY AGAIN: Beau Hossler made over 200 feet of putts in his third-round 64 (11-under) to get in contention again. “Truthfully, it’s kind of where I expect myself to be,” he said. Hossler was just 17 and had a mouthful of braces when he briefly led the 2012 U.S. Open at Olympic Club. He went to Texas and thrived, but injured his left shoulder at the 2016 NCAA Championship and had to forfeit his singles match. Surgery and rehab followed, and Hossler spent last season getting his swing speed back on the Web.com Tour, where he secured his TOUR card with a 23rd-place finish. Now he’s getting used to the idea of winning. He was in contention at the Sanders Farms Championship and the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, but shot final-round 73s both times. “Definitely rowdier,” he said of the fans at the Waste Management. “And I’m looking forward to it, but, yeah, it’s going to be a little bit different atmosphere, I’m sure, tomorrow than anything that I’ve played in thus far.” NOTABLES ALEX NOREN – Lost an epic, six-hole playoff to Jason Day at the Farmers Insurance Open last week, but he’s just five back after a third-round 65. JON RAHM – Fan favorite Rahm birdied the 16th hole for the second time in three days and shot 65 to go into Sunday just one back. MATT KUCHAR – He took just 25 putts on the way to a 64 that moved him to 10-under and within four of the lead. PHIL MICKELSON - Three-time WMPO champion played with buddy Jon Rahm and fellow San Diegan Xander Schauffele and shot 66 to get to 12-under, just two back. XANDER SCHAUFFELE – Reigning Rookie of the Year shot up the board with a 66 and is in the mix for his third TOUR win, just two off the lead. QUOTABLES “The last three days, I can’t even remember hitting the ball. Like, I couldn’t hear. I just felt it.” – Jon Rahm (65, 13-under) on the atmosphere at the par-3 16th hole, which he birdied Saturday. “The louder it is, the better. Someone can yell something obnoxious and you wouldn’t even hear it.” – Xander Schauffele (66, -12) on the crowd noise at 16. “I know Jon very well. We’re good friends. I play up at Whisper Rock with him, so we’ll have fun tomorrow.” – Scottsdale resident Chez Reavie (67, 13-under) “I think I have one of the most consistent swings on TOUR, but under the gun in certain situations I’ve gotten a little amped and it’s gotten me into trouble.” – Bryson DeChambeau (68, 13-under) “I’m going to have to just putt really, really well.” – Bill Haas (66, 11-under) on what he would have to do Sunday to win. CALL OF THE DAY SUPERLATIVES Low round: 64, by Beau Hossler and Matt Kuchar Long drive: Kevin Chappell drove it 387 yards at the 11th hole. He made par. Longest putt: Camilo Villegas holed a putt of 64 feet, 4 inches for birdie at the par-4 eighth. Easiest hole: The par-5 13th played to just 547 yards and the field ate it up, with a stroke average of 4.347. They made seven eagles, 41 birdies, 18 pars, four bogeys and two double-bogeys. Hardest hole: The tees were back at the 443-yard par-4 sixth, and the field averaged 4.194 strokes on the hole, with twice as many bogeys (16) as birdies, and three doubles. 16th hole: The rowdy par-3 played to a 2.917 stroke average, making it the sixth easiest of the day. The tees were moved up from 163 to 127 yards. 17th hole: The driveable, 332-yard par-4 was the third easiest hole of the day, playing to a 3.667 stroke average. There were 33 birdies, but no eagles, to go with 30 pars and nine bogeys. SHOT OF THE DAY BEST OF SOCIAL


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