AUGUSTA, GEORGIA – Maybe this is the Masters Sunday that Rickie Fowler has been chasing.
But he’s probably going to need a day like he had Saturday at Augusta National when he shot 65, playing his first bogey-free round in the tournament, but still found himself five behind relentless leader Patrick Reed entering the final round.
Sundays at Augusta have not been kind to Fowler. He shot 67 in the final round in 2015 to tie for 12th otherwise it’s been a lost day for him.
He was in third place entering the final round last year and closed with 76. He was in fifth place in 2014 and shot 73 on Sunday. And, he shot 78 in 2013 when he began the final round in ninth place.
So what does Fowler take from last year to change the storyline this year?
“Well, big thing, sticking to what we’ve been doing well all week and not necessarily getting any more defensive or aggressive, especially the front nine,” Fowler said. “Continue to stick with our game plan and go through the process like we’ve been doing all week.
“I think the big thing is I’ll need to make some key putts, whether they are for birdie or pars, not to fall further behind, and to really put ourselves in a position to go win this tournament, and that’s on the last nine holes. We’re ready to do that.
“So I’m definitely playing this golf course the best I have, ever, as far as how comfortable I am on each and every hole, playing all the holes well. Definitely I think I’m hitting a lot more greens than I’ve ever hit here, and probably driving it the best I have here.”
Fowler made it look easy in the rain-softened conditions Saturday, starting with an eagle at the par-5 second hole then sprinkling five birdies on his card to put himself in Sunday’s penultimate pairing with Jon Rahm who, like Fowler, shot 65 in the third round.
Masters 2018: Rickie Fowler | 2nd Hole, Round 3 pic.twitter.com/Q6cMYU0NiE
— Masters Highlights (@MastersMoments) April 7, 2018
“I’m a little ways back,” Fowler said. “It’s going to be a tough task tomorrow. I’m going to have to play some pretty solid golf. The big thing is, I’m not going to be able to make many bogeys, if any. I need to continue to kind of cut down on the lead.
“I came from quite a ways back and won Tiger’s event (the Hero World Challenge) at the end of last year. But it’s also nice when you’re playing up front and have a few shots to kind of play with, it allows you to make some mistakes – that’s going to happen. It’s tough to play a flawless round of golf, especially around this place.
“I’d much rather be out front and give myself a little wiggle room and be able to go play some golf. But I’ll take this. All you want is a shot come Sunday at the Masters, so we got that.”