Rickie Fowler moves closer to winning moment at Phoenix Open

Allan Henry/USA TODAY Sports

Rickie Fowler moves closer to winning moment at Phoenix Open

PGA Tour

Rickie Fowler moves closer to winning moment at Phoenix Open

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Rickie Fowler knows his winning moment at the Waste Management Phoenix Open is coming. Perhaps as soon as Sunday.

Fowler fired a 5-under 66 for the second straight day on Friday to move to 10 under and keep a share of the lead at TPC Scottsdale.

“This is a place that, from the first couple times I played it, knew it was just kind of a matter of time before I would win here,” said Fowler, who is tied for the top spot on the leaderboard with Bryson DeChambeau. “I know I can win here, I put myself in position plenty of times.”

The Phoenix Open lost its two-time defending champion Friday as Hideki Matsuyama withdrew prior to his second round with a left-thumb injury. Matsuyama had played 17 rounds in his WMPO career and shot under par in all but one of them.

Luckily for the tournament, it has Matsuyama’s first-round playing competitor, Fowler, to soften the blow.

Fowler has quite the track record at TPC Scottsdale himself. He’s played this event nine times with a pair of runner-up finishes. He was fourth last year and has shot under par in 23 of his 32 rounds here.

On Friday, he got off to a blazing start in the Arizona desert. He birdied four of his first six holes and finished the day with seven birdies. He reached 11 under after wedging close and birdieing the par-5 15th, but gave a shot back with a poor pitch at the par-4 17th that resulted in one of two bogeys on the day.

A day earlier, Fowler had played the back nine in 3 under. Now he just needs to put the two nines together a couple of times on the weekend.

“It’s nice that we’re starting off well,” Fowler said. “A lot of times if you can’t go get the front nine, at any tournament, you feel like you’re kind of behind the 8-ball and falling back.”

This is the eighth time Fowler has held at least a share of the 36-hole lead. In the previous seven occasions he has failed to win come Sunday.

But this week could be different. Fowler loves this place and has a large group of family and friends in town, including his parents, grandparents and girlfriend Allison Stokke.

“It would be a perfect week to do it,” Fowler said. “Thunderbirds have always been great to me, giving me a sponsor exemption here back when I was in school at Oklahoma State. And since I don’t play as many tournaments on the West Coast, I get a lot of friends and family that come out here, so it makes for a fun Sunday night. … This is a special place and having some people out following and supporting, it would make it that much more special.”


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