Rickie Fowler’s scorecard Thursday was about as colorful as his clothing. Fowler made two double-bogeys, an eagle and six birdies to shoot 68. He parred just half his holes, but is in contention at Augusta National and that is all that matters.
Fowler’s day began with a double-bogey at the first hole, but he made four birdies on the first nine to turn in 34 strokes. Another double-bogey came at the 10th: He had to hole a 12-foot putt for 6 on the par-4 after hitting his approach shot into a bush. He took a penalty drop, then hit the next shot into a bunker. He blasted out to 12 feet and made the putt.
His 68 was his career-low at Augusta National, and just his second score in the 60s in nine rounds here. He made the cut in both appearances (T-38 in 2011; T-27 in 2012), but hasn’t broken par for 72 holes. He was in seventh midway through the 2011 Masters but shot 150 (76-74) on the weekend.
On Thursday, Fowler made birdie on the hole after both of his double-bogeys. He birdied the downhill, par-5 second hole and the difficult par-4 11th, hitting 5-iron to 15 feet at the latter hole. He eagled the par-5 15th after reaching the green with a hybrid second shot.
“I’m usually pretty good with bounce-backs,” Fowler said. “It was nice to kind of turn around after making a double and making birdie to calm myself down.”
Fowler said this was the first tournament he didn’t have to take pain medication for a back injury that started bothering him last year. “I didn’t want to make a big deal of it,” Fowler said. “I was never really a person to make excuses for anything happening.
“That was not a fun eight months from June on. I’m definitely on the upswing on the health side of things with my back. It’s nice to not have to worry about it as much.”