I’ll have to admit, when I saw the the first and second round pairings for the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, and realized that Rickie Fowler was paired with Tiger Woods, and Nick Watney, I wondered if Fowler had gotten past his last experience of playing with the World Number two golfer at the Memorial last year. As you might remember, Rickie was paired with Woods in the next to last group on Sunday, and both were chasing Spencer Levin, and Rory Sabbatini for the tournament lead.
Fowler came out in that round, birdied the first hole, and after that, his game took a detour to the point that he became a spectator, shooting an 84 on the afternoon, and finishing toward the bottom of the leaderboard. He said in an interview after the round, he had the best seat in the house for one of Tiger’s greatest comebacks. Especially when Woods hit the chip at 16 that Fowler was convinced would land no closer than 10 feet. We all remember seeing it go in the hole and it even impressed Jack Nicklaus, who was hosting, and in commentary with the media.
Rickie Fowler opened his tournament at Torrey Pines by shooting a 77 on the South Course, which is the tougher of the two by almost a stroke and a half, and was in doubt for making the cut. He had a miserable day making six bogeys, and a double bogey at the par 4 12th hole. He managed only three birdies, and ended his round at five over par.
I though for sure the kid was done, and should be making plans for his trip to Phoenix, but he came out in the nasty weather on Friday, and played his way back into this tournament. He opened the second round with birdies at the second and third holes, posting a hat trick of birdies at 14, 15, and 16. He would go on to birdie the 18th hole, and finish with a seven under 65, putting him well within the cut line at two under par. He went bogey free on a day that was nasty at best, and will be around for the weekend.
Rickie Fowler impressed me on Friday. I didn’t think he had the toughness of a Tiger Woods, to play himself back into this event, especially playing with Woods. I was dead wrong. Fowler will be tied for 44th place when action get underway again on Sunday, and is nine strokes off the pace. I don’t think he has a realistic chance of catching the leaders, but in my eyes, he already won by overcoming the fear of playing with Tiger.
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