After missing the cut at the U.S. Open last week at Oakmont, Rickie Fowler will not have another unwanted weekend off. Fowler shot a second consecutive 68 on Friday at the Quicken Loans National to enter the weekend at 6 under par for the tournament.
Teeing off in the morning, Fowler hit 14 of 18 greens in regulation at Congressional Country Club, vaulting into the top 10 with those having afternoon tee times still on the course.
“I was planning on making this one,” Fowler said. “This game’s been very close. Didn’t drive it well last week, and especially there obviously with the rough and the bunkering off the fairways, couldn’t do that. At least here I was able to get away with a few. Did a good job of keeping the ball in front of me. Just the one bogey, so happy about that.”
Fowler finished his second round with four birdies and a single bogey (on the 14th hole). He did so by finding his touch on the greens.
“I made a lot of good par putts. I wasn’t on top of the speed to begin with, left some uphill putts short,” Fowler said. “Like I said, made some good putts for par, so that kind of just kept me going, kept plugging along and knew that once I gave myself some good looks at birdies that I would be able to make those since I already made some for par.”
Ranked sixth in the world, Fowler said he feels as if he’s getting closer to turning a corner after missing the cut in his past three events.
“The difference in making the cuts and being in contention to just missing and packing your bags, it’s a fine line,” Fowler said. “Just have to be patient. It’s easy to go out, get off to a bad start and start pushing and you end up packing your bags early. . . . Pleased with where the game’s at and where it’s going, so we’re in a good position going into the rest of the summer.”
Playing in the same group as his friends Fowler and Smylie Kaufman, Justin Thomas began the day at 2 under and remained so after teeing off on No. 10 and playing his first nine holes. Bogeys at Nos. 2 and 3 had Thomas looking shaky, but his playing partners seemed to ratchet up the competition.
He birdied four of his next five holes and finished the day with his second consecutive 69 and enters the weekend seven shots off the lead.
The front nine “is definitely the easier nine on this course, and I felt like even was the worst I could’ve shot in the front nine or on the back,” Thomas said. “I tried to stay patient and kept trying to get in the fairway, get myself some looks, and fortunately I needed it after I did on one, two and three.”
Thomas, who ranks eighth on this year’s PGA Tour money list with nearly $3 million , had never been paired with Fowler before and enjoyed the friendly competition. As for their fashion choices — Fowler wore a neon yellow polo, Thomas dressed in a more modest green — Thomas pulled no punches.
“I’m a better dresser than he is,” Thomas said with a chuckle.