AUGUSTA, Ga. (Reuters) - Rickie Fowler gets another crack at erasing his name from the ‘best players yet to win a major’ list and the return of his touch on the greens has him believing that time may have come at the U.S. Masters.
Fowler, who in 2014 posted top-five finishes in each of the four majors including runner-up showings in the U.S. and British Opens, posted a flawless seven-under-par 65 to sit five adrift of fellow-American Patrick Reed going into Sunday’s final round.
“I’ve been hitting great putts,” the 29-year-old Fowler told reporters. “Ball has been on line. I feel like my speed’s been on point. Speed was pretty much perfect.
“Nice to see that it’s warming back up. My putter is typically one of the best clubs in the bag. It went a little bit cold on me the last few months but it’s definitely nice to have it back.”
Fowler launched his charge up the leaderboard with 25-foot eagle putt at the par-five second hole and added birdies at the fifth, sixth and eighth holes.
After a string of six pars, birdies at the 15th and 17th put him within five of the lead and accomplished his mission on ‘Moving Day’ at Augusta National.
“We did what we needed to do today to give us a chance to win tomorrow (Sunday),” Fowler added after his first bogey-free round at Augusta pushed him to nine-under for the tournament.
“I can’t control anyone else other than put birdies up on the board. We’re definitely in striking distance to put together a good round of golf like we did today, and we’ll see what happens.”
Fowler was in prime position last year, standing one stroke off the pace entering the final round before posting a 76 that dropped him down into a tie for 11th behind Sergio Garcia.
“Last year, at times, I may have gotten maybe too defensive or too aggressive and you learn from that and move on,” he said.
“The big thing is sticking to what we’ve been doing well all week, continue to stick with our game plan,” added Fowler, who won the 2015 Players Championship after a four-hole playoff against Kevin Kisner and Garcia.
“I’m definitely playing this golf course the best I have ever as far as how comfortable I am on each and every hole. Looking forward to keeping that going.”
Editing by John O'Brien