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Rickie Fowler moves to tie for Masters lead

rooz Rickie Fowler moves to tie for Masters lead image

Rickie Fowler moves to tie for Masters lead Rickie Fowler hits from a bunker on the second Photo/David Goldman) Sergio Garcia, of Spain, reacts to a shot on the 15th Photo/David J. Phillip)
AUGUSTA, Ga.>> Rickie Fowler might be the most advertised American golfer in the game. At Augusta National on Friday, the product he was selling was himself.
In a game that needs players with visibility, it will be difficult to avoid Fowler if he goes ahead and wins this Masters championship.
Putting more efficiently than anyone in the field and taking care of the big moments, Fowler of Murrieta shot 5-under-par 67 in the gusty sunshine and joined a four-man scramble for the tournament lead.
He is at 4-under for the event, same as Sergio Garcia, Thomas Pieters and first-round Charley Hoffman, who followed his 65 with a 75.
Fowler wasn’t feeling so chipper when he left the 15th green. His third shot had gotten wet, and he missed a 4-footer to make bogey on a hole he thought he could birdie.
It all changed on 16 when he jammed in a 21-footer, from off the green, and uncharacteristically shook his fist.
The putt bounced right when it got out of the fringe and then picked up velocity before it hit the cup and fell.
“That putt went pretty straight,” said Joe Skovron, Fowler’s caddie.
“Straight, yeah,” Fowler replied, “at that speed.”
Fowler nearly took the outright lead on 18 but his birdie putt barely missed. He had gotten himself going with an eagle on 2 and a birdie on 3, and slowly closed on Hoffman, who had five bogeys in a six-hole stretch before he straightened himself out.
“The wind won’t be as much of a factor tomorrow so there should be more birdies,” Fowler said. “I love to look at the leaderboards and see what everyone is doing, but the main thing I have to do is go slower than I normally go, keep myself under control.
“I love being in this position. It’s like having the ball at the end of a game.”
Fowler missed the cut here in 2016 and has one top-10 finish in six starts. He has an impressive resume, with a Honda Classic win this year and wins at the Scottish Open and in Abu Dhabi. In 2014 he finished 5-2-2-3 in the four majors.
Still, there’s a feeling he should have done more. His inability to avoid bad holes has cost him wins.
“I would say under,” Fowler said earlier this week, when asked where his accomplishments lie on his personal graph of expectation. “But, hey, it’s tough out here. I’m thinking that the way my game is and where it’s likely to go is going to give me some opportunities.’ Advertisement
Garcia has played 71 consecutive majors. The last one he missed was the 1999 U.S. Open. He hasn’t yet won one, but his game and his temperament are more even than they used to be. He played his first 21 holes here without a bogey and shot 69 on Friday.
William McGirt, scrambling and putting his way around the premises, is two shots behind the lead group. Behind him at 1-under are Jon Rahm, Ryan Moore, 57-year-old Fred Couples, and Justin Rose.
Phil Mickelson was 3-under at one point but bogeyed 17 and 18 and fell to even par. There he is joined by Adam Scott and Jordan Spieth, who had four birdies in his final 11 holes, birdied the 18th and will play alongside Mickelson on Saturday afternoon.
Jason Day shot 41 on the back and barely made the cut at 6-over. Two-time champ Bubba Watson and British Open winner Henrik Stenson missed that cut.
Stewart Hagestad, the USC grad from Newport Beach, is at 3-over and became the first Mid-Amateur champ to make the cut since the Masters began inviting those winners in 1989.

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