ERIN, WISCONSIN – On Thursday, Hideki Matsuyama watched Rickie Fowler pick apart Erin Hills, shooting 65 to take the first-round lead in the U.S. Open.
On Friday, Fowler watched Matsuyama shoot 65 while he patched together a 1-over par 73.
So goes the U.S. Open.
Two strokes clear after 18 holes, Fowler found himself Friday evening staring at a quartet of players one stroke ahead of him on the leaderboard at Erin Hills.
A string of three consecutive bogeys early in his second nine on Friday stalled the momentum Fowler had built over the first 27 holes as he chases his first major title.
“I got off to a nice start. Just kind of cruising around how I wanted to. Hit fairways, greens, and you don’t have to be off by a whole lot,” Fowler said. “I just hit a 3-wood just a touch left of the line on 11, and I had to try to hit something out of the rough, and ended up on a tough spot behind the green. Then three-putt the next two holes afterwards. So I really could have been through there easily with just one bogey, and had some good looks after that. So all in all, not bad.”
But not exactly where Fowler wanted to be. He scrambled to save par at Nos. 16 and 17, playing his last 11 holes without a birdie.
Fowler took a measure of pride in hanging close to the lead on a day when he couldn’t generate much positive momentum. He recalled similar situations in other major championships when the damage could have been more serious.
“I’m playing the weekend,” Fowler said. “I have a tee time on Saturday, so it’s just kind of you learn along the way to never really give up. You never know what one shot’s going to count for.”