Houston (AFP) – Rickie Fowler edged closer to a timely first victory of the year despite letting slip a share of the lead with a closing hole bogey on day two of the Houston Open Friday.
Fowler kick-started his second round 68 in storming manner with four birdies from his second to sixth holes to race to 10-under par in cloudless conditions on a still rain-softened Golf Club of Houston course.
The current world number eight then stalled with six straight pars before moving into a share of the lead at 11-under after chipping to just 18-inches for birdie at the par-5 13th hole.
Fowler, whose last victory came at December’s Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, then parred his next four holes only to drop a shot at the last after sending his tee shot into water down the left side of the 18th for a four-under 68.
The 29-year old Fowler headed to the scorer’s hut trailing a stroke behind compatriot Ben Hossler (68) and tied in second place with fellow countrymen Abraham Ancer (66), Sam Ryder (68) and Nicholas Lindheim (66)
“I got off to a nice start as you can see with four birdies through the first six, but it would have been nice to get a couple better looks through the rest of the round and finish off a little bit better,” Fowler said.
“So, it’s nice to obviously be in the position I’m in and not having my best stuff.
“I’ve been playing solid the first two days, but some things we can clean up and looking forward to the weekend, for sure.”
Five players – the American foursome of Jordan Spieth (67), Bronson Burgoon (68), Kevin Tway (70), Julian Suri (69) and Ireland’s Paul Dunne (71) – share sixth place on nine-under par.
Spieth capped his ever-improving form, and with less than a week to the Masters, with five birdies in a six-hole run from the ninth to the 14th hole.
“Honestly, my goal for the week’s been accomplished just in two rounds,” said Spieth.
“I am just trying to show some consistency and make some birdies, see a couple putts go in,” he added.
The day began with Irishman Dunne taking the first round lead as Thursday’s weather-hit first round was completed.
Dunne returned to the course at 7.20am local time and birdied two of his closing four holes in an eight-under-par 64.
It is the first time Dunne, who secured his Houston start by finishing top-10 in last week’s PGA Tour Corales Championship in the Dominican Republic, has led a PGA Tour event.
But the fireworks over his first round dried-up with Dunne managing just three birdies against two bogeys for a 71.
“The course played a lot different heading into my second round as the wind picked-up but then to shoot a 64 and to officially lead a PGA Tour is something I haven’t done before,” he said.
“The good thing is I am driving the ball well and this is after not playing all that well about three to four weeks ago but I did some good work in the fortnight leading into last week competing in the Dominican Republic.
“So, everything is in good place with nothing being spectacular.”