By John Dundon
Through three rounds of the Barclays at Bethpage Black, Rickie Fowler holds the outright lead at 9-under par.
Fowler’s weekend at The Black has been the epitome of consistency. At a course where the mental aspect of the game is just as important as the physical aspect, Fowler’s yielded just one bogey through his first three rounds—54 holes of golf at or under par. A big part of that? Remaining positive through adversity.
“The putter’s starting to show up a bit. I’ve always been a very good putter, I mean, you have to have the confidence and belief in yourself to be a good putter.” Fowler said.
“I enjoy that part of the game. Especially when you are making putts and it’s been bad, the past few months, just seeing myself hit good putts and not go in. To see it starting to come around, it’s definitely helped out the rest of the game,” Rickie professed.
Fowler, 27, like all of the golfers spending the weekend on Long Island, places the stash of FedEx Cup points up for grabs in high regard. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think the crowd out at Bethpage State Park had an investment in the standings themselves, as they’ve been a factor.
“It’s a lot of fun playing in front of loud crowds,” Fowler said. “We’re going to take care of our business and hopefully I’ll give myself a chance to celebrate with them tomorrow late.”
One of those who spent the day chasing Fowler (-9) was former world number one golfer Adam Scott.
Scott sits at 7-under heading into championship Sunday. The tour-veteran’s third round was one of the tournament’s best as he made up six strokes today alone. Scott’s been satisfied with his performance away from the greens, where, like Fowler, putts finally began to fall today thanks in part due to keeping a level head.
“When you’re not making them and they are always a little bit short, you start thinking about too many things, stroke, line, speed, all that kind of stuff,” Scott said after his round. “I just freed my mind up a little with the putter today and just thought, we’ll see what happens, and they went in.”
In a game as humbling as golf, there are sure to be ups and downs. Phil Mickelson’s round was encouraging—at one point he found himself 3-under—until he got to the 17th tee box.
“I had a good round going. I played a good front nine, and hit some good shots. The back nine, I didn’t play my best but I was fighting.” Mickelson told members of the media after the round. “Unfortunately the last two holes weren’t very good.”
That would be the understatement of the century.
Mickelson hit his tee shot on 17 fat. After chipping out of the front-left bunker, he missed a par putt that would’ve gotten the crowd so loud people would’ve been woken up in Montauk. On 18, disaster struck in the form of a double bogey. Again, this gaff originated in trouble off of the tee. The lefty had an opportunity to save bogey and missed a 15-foot putt, again forcing the grandstand into an audible groan.
The 18th hole would go on to be more of the same. Mickelson found himself in the sand off the tee. From there, another bunker. Mickelson, a noted master at saving par and getting himself out of trouble, couldn’t save himself when he needed it most.
Other notable names, including Jason Day, 5-under, and Jordan Spieth, 3-under, squandered opportunities to get back to the top of the leaderboard throughout the day. Conventional wisdom says they may have run out of time with just one round left to play.
Then again, anything can happen at Bethpage Black.