When the door of the scoring trailer swung open and Rickie Fowler appeared — almost on cue — the crowd of adoring fans screamed, “Rickie, Rickie!” As always, Fowler walked down the row and signed for each and every one of them.
Fowler signed for a one-under 70, putting him at eight-under for the tournament and tied for 12th on the bunched-up leaderboard. At one point he got to 11-under, but coming in, he made bogeys on Nos. 12, 13 and 17 to drop a few shots, but he’s still very much in contention, trailing leader Bubba Watson by three.
The wind picked up in the afternoon, creating gusty conditions that made club selection more difficult.
“It made it a bit trickier picking clubs with gusts up and then they were laying down,” said Watney, who was paired with Fowler and also struggled in the wind. “The conditions got tougher, but I made it tougher than it should have been. It blew the same direction but it was up and down, so it was hard to pick a club and trust it.”
Now, Watney is one of five players on the PGA Tour this season that has captured two victories.
On the other hand, it’s no secret Fowler, one of the game’s most popular rising stars, has yet to snag his first professional win. And as more time passes, Fowler, who always appears calm and poised, must be feeling the pressure of getting that monkey off his back — especially considering the multitude of first-time winners this season.
He feels good going into Monday’s final round at TPC Boston. He’s played well the last two-to -three months, including a tie for fifth at the British Open and a tie for second at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. Fowler has made a habit out of sliding backwards in the final round, but he managed to break that pattern last month at Firestone.
“The way I’ve been playing the last month or two, in contention at AT&T and same thing with the Open Championship,” said Fowler after his runner-up finish at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
“After those two Sunday final rounds, I just knew I had to stay a lot more patient and within myself and make sure that I was fully committed to every shot and think everything through and make sure I was ready to hit each shot. We did it today, did it well, and it resulted in a bogey-free 66.”
So, how important was that Sunday final round at Firestone for Fowler and what will he take from it going into tomorrow?
“I hadn’t really played well on a Sunday or a final round pretty much the whole year,” said Fowler after his round at TPC Boston Sunday. “To go out being in contention and to play well and shoot a number — it was really the first time all year I had done that, so I’m definitely going to feed off that tomorrow.”
“It’s a process,” Fowler’s caddie Joe Skovron told me Friday. “I know that sounds cliche, but it really is.”
Well, you know what they say — put yourself in contention enough times and you’ll eventually end up in the winner’s circle — but let’s hope Fowler’s time will come before the year’s out.
(AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)