Friday, May 22, 2015

Fowler, Watney tied for lead after third round at Aronimink

"Is that enough birdies for ya," Steve Marino quipped to a friend as he walked to the scorer's building.

Fowler, Watney tied for lead after third round at Aronimink

Will it finally be Rickie's time?

Rickie Fowler, the popular 23-year-old American with the flashy clothes and the huge galleries has a chance for his first PGA Tour victory on Sunday in the AT&T National at Aronimink.

Fowler is tied for the lead with another up-and-coming American, Nick Watney, who fired a course-record 8-under-par 62. Both are at 9-under, one shot clear of second-round leader K.J. Choi, who birdied three of the final five holes to vault back into contention.

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Watney's record day included an 8-under 27 on the back nine.

"For some reason the ball just — the hole looked really big on the back [nine]."

Aronimink was brought to its knees for one afternoon as ideal conditions saw the course record tied, and set, then re-set, all within a few hours, and all just a day after Choi had tied last year's course record of 6-under 64.

Earlier, Cameron Tringale and Kevin Stadler tied Choi's and Justin Rose's course record of 64, which was then broken by Chris Kirk and Steve Marino, which was then broken by Watney.

By the time Fowler sank a short par putt on 18 to finish at 64, his score seemed somewhat pedestrian for this day.

Still, it left him tied for the lead and in the final pairing with Watney, who won earlier this year at Doral and has won three times in his career. Fowler is in his second full season on tour.

"I've played in final groups and played in contention," Fowler said. "I think the biggest thing is just go out and be patient, not get ahead of myself and not get too excited or anxious. 

"No matterwhat ... you're going to have to put up a good number on Sunday to win." 

Six other players were tied for seventh place at 6-under 204: Kirk (shot a 63 in the third round), Bill Haas (66), Chris Stroud (66), Bryce Molder (68), Jeff Overton (68) and Charlie Wi (69).

"I definitely think the course was set up the softest for the week so far," Scott said. "I don’t know that I’d ever call 66 ordinary. I’m quite happy with 66 to be honest. But yeah, it doesn’t really stack up against a 62, does it?"

-- Gary Potosky and Tim Rohan 

Marino briefly has course record 

"Is that enough birdies for ya," Steve Marino quipped to a friend as he walked to the scorer’s building with what was, for that moment, a course-record 63.

Marino said he didn’t think he could shoot that low after the first two days, but lo and behold.

Known as a birdie machine, Marino hit 12 of 14 fairways and hit 15 of 18 greens in regulation. And his only three-putt came on the par-4 No. 3, which he bogeyed. 

An hour earlier, Chris Kirk had walked off the course with a 7-under 63 in hand too, which was also tied for the course record at the time. 

Kirk was a magician with his putter, using only 24 to record eight birdies and one bogey. 

"When I saw what those guys shot yesterday, I was thinking, how in the heck did they do that, to be honest with you," Kirk said of K.J. Choi’s course-record tying second round. "So I guess I now know."

-- Tim Rohan

Stadler sets early pace

The course record of a 6-under 64 doesn’t seem as special anymore after Saturday morning at Aronimink.

The No. 247 player in the world, Kevin Stadler, and the No. 303 player in the world, Cameron Tringale, both tied the course record on Saturday that K.J. Choi tied on Friday and Justin Rose set in 2010.

Stadler, 31, who has never won a PGA Tour event, even had a chance to finish 7-under before he bogeyed the par-3 17th because he three-putted from 46 feet, missing a 16-foot par putt.

"It doesn’t really matter where you put the tee there, it’s a really, really tough hole," Stadler said of No. 17. "So it’s just take your 3, or in my case, 4. Today, I didn’t really care about it, but I’d rather take a 3. But you can take a 3, no matter where the pin is, and get out of there."

Stadler started the round at 2-over and was three strokes off of K.J. Choi’s two-round lead when it was over. After he walked off the 18th green on Friday, he was seen muttering to himself, certainly not pleased at that point. Then, he had recorded eight birdies, eight bogeys and a double bogey through 36-holes.

"I mutter to myself most every day, not much different," Stadler said. "[On Thursday] I shot 3-over. I missed four greens. I three-putted four or five times. I just really struggled on the greens. You know, it was just another one of those days. I was down on my finish."

"My ball striking has gotten a little bit better from Thursday to today. And I just didn’t have too many chances at bogeys today. I got the ball a little bit closer and made a couple of more putts."

Stadler hit 17 of 18 greens in regulation and his only three-putt came on his bogey on 17.

The course is playing much different this morning than it did the previous two days thanks to conditions and pin locations. Several players were making jumps up the leaderboard and the birdies certainly were up for grabs.

"It’s a lot softer," Stadler said of the course. "I played [Friday] afternoon. It’s a little bit more humid today. The greens are a little bit more receptive. Very kinda lucky to get out here early today, the greens are going to firm up as the day goes on. It was a lot softer out here this morning than it was yesterday.

"I don’t know if there will be too many super low [scores], but I expect them to be lower than they were the first couple of days. There were a lot more accessible pins today. … There’s a couple more birdie opportunities out there.

And the leaders haven’t even had their crack at the vulnerable course yet.

"I don’t think they’ve even started warming up yet, the leaders," Stadler said. "So hopefully I’ll be within a few shots."

--Tim Rohan

About this blog
Golf Inq. is a golf blog written by the Philadelphia Inquirer's sports department.

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