Rory McIlroy was thinking more about his game than how much ground he had to make up, but that changed when the putts started to fall.
Rory McIlroy, statements
"I think on a course like this you’re going to have stretches where you’re going to play good golf and hit good shots and maybe just not hole the putts.
I played an eight-hole stretch yesterday in even par — I made eight pars in a row. Then today, I played nine holes in 6 under and all of a sudden you feel a little better about yourself" It was easy to feel good playing alongside Abraham Ancer, who had a 63 and was three shots behind along with Adam Scott (67) and Robert Streb (65).
When they finished, the caddies for McIlroy and Ancer looked at the scores on their phones and quickly worked out McIlroy and Ancer had a better-ball score of 59. “We were nine back, you know?” Ancer said. “We just know that we have to make a bunch of birdies.
I just told myself, 'Hey, just hit the green, see one putt roll in and feed off of that. It was nice to see the group was playing well. Rory was hitting some nice putts, the hole starts getting a little bit bigger, too”.
Fowler did most of his work from tee to green. He holed an 18-foot birdie putt on the par-3 16th to take the lead, and he had another birdie putt from that range on the eighth hole. Mostly, he kept giving himself chances. Fowler got up-and-down for birdies on the par 5s on the front.
He had three two-putt birdies on the back nine — the two par 5s and a drive to 35 feet on the reachable par-4 12th. It was simple, stress-free golf, and there hasn't been a lot of that for him lately. Fowler failed to qualifying for the FedExCup postseason for the first time in his career, and he needed a sponsor exemption for the second straight year to play in THE CJ CUP @ SUMMIT.
Now he faces his biggest test, another step in what he hopes is a return to the elite. Next to him will be McIlroy, who already has won this year, and Ancer, who picked up his first PGA TOUR title at the World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational in Tennessee.