Rickie Fowler still in contention at Wells Fargo after shocking 4-putt

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Rickie Fowler still in contention at Wells Fargo after shocking 4-putt

PGA Tour

Rickie Fowler still in contention at Wells Fargo after shocking 4-putt

CHARLOTTE – Rickie Fowler reeled off three straight birdies Saturday afternoon to charge up to the Wells Fargo Championship leaderboard. He capped the run with a 24-foot birdie putt on 16, the hardest hole on the golf course, to get within one shot of the lead.

Then he four-putted the 17th green in unthinkable fashion.

“Both of us kind of looked at each other … you don’t even know what happened,” said Fowler’s long-time caddie Joe Skovron. “Just a weird thing. You just chalk it up to that and move on.”

Fowler finished with par at the tough 18th hole to shoot 3-under 68 on the day, getting himself to 4 under for the week with a chance to make another move Sunday in the final round at Quail Hollow.

It was a stunning conclusion on moving day. Double bogeys aren’t all that uncommon on the 17th green, the left side of which is flanked completely by a lake. They are extremely rare for players on the green in one, particularly from Fowler’s distance of about 20 feet after the tee shot.

Fowler hit a good birdie putt that missed by about three feet and went to go clean up a solid par. He missed twice more from there, providing nightmare fuel for yippers everywhere and drastically altering his chances in a tournament he looked poised to tackle head-on Saturday afternoon.

“For the most part I always mark anything outside of basically tap-in range,” Fowler said. “I was a little frustrated with that (par miss), figured I would kick that one in. A little mental mistake there. But that reinforces why I go ahead and mark the short ones.”

The tee shot at No. 18 might be the most difficult on property, so Fowler knew he couldn’t dwell on the mental error. He split the fairway and gave himself an 8 iron into the green, finishing with a two-putt par.

“I feel like we’ve done a good job this week after three weeks off managing our way around, continuing to move forward and putting ourselves in position to win,” Fowler said. “We can definitely tighten things up and we’ll be in a good spot tomorrow and definitely in a good spot for next week.”

Next week meaning the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass, where Fowler earned the definitive win of his career to date in 2015.

Maybe that’s why Fowler wasn’t shaken up by the four-putt at 17. After a finish which would leave most golfers fuming, Fowler was joking around with a few people outside the Quail Hollow clubhouse and appeared in no rush to escape.

Sometimes, all you can do is laugh about it.

“In our working relationship, we’ve been through a lot of that stuff,” said Skovron, who is from the same area as Fowler and has known him since he was five years old. “We’ve been through a lot of heartbreaks where we’ve been close and it hasn’t worked out. We’ve had a lot more ups than downs, but we’ve had some downs in there. You just try to stay the course. You can’t do anything about it, so we just talked about being mentally strong.”

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