2018 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open: Rickie Fowler surges in Round 2 after ‘not playing a whole lot of golf’

Rickie Fowler is in a familiar spot in a number of ways after shooting a 4-under 67 in Round 2 of the 2018 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas. This event is where he made his pro debut all the way back in 2009 when he finished T7 at the event, which was then sponsored by Justin Timberlake.

It’s also where he made his home for a while after leaving Oklahoma State. He’s played over 200 events between that one and this one — and won several of them — but he hasn’t played much golf since his U.S. side got beat up in Paris at the 2018 Ryder Cup.

So a 68-67 start at TPC Summerlin, while not necessarily surprising, was a nice jump start to the 2018-19 PGA Tour season for Fowler.

“Lived out here for a year after I turned pro,” Fowler said after his round. “It’s nice to be back. I feel like we’re off to a solid start first two days. Like I said, after basically coming off not playing a whole lot of golf, I’m happy where we’re at.”

Fowler’s 67 on Friday included six birdies, two bogeys and nearly three strokes gained on his approach shots. He hit a few putts, but overall he’s been pretty average in that category, which means if he bangs a few home on the weekend, we could be looking at win No. 5 on his PGA Tour career.

“It’s nice to get some rust off,” said Fowler, who also noted he might catch a show in Vegas over the weekend. “There is still a little bit more that needs to get shaken off, but I’m happy with where we’re at. Two decent rounds of golf. Definitely happy about the one yesterday getting off to a slow start and making things happen and at least finishing off and turning a potentially bad round into a decent round.

“Get some putts to go in and we’ll be in a great spot for Sunday.”

Fowler, who hasn’t played this event since 2015, is in contention with another Poke, Peter Uihlein, as well as Tony Finau, Matt Kuchar, Webb Simpson, Jordan Spieth and Bryson DeChambeau. As far as November events go, it’s a loaded field full of golfers who are playing quite well.

There’s a long way between Fowler going one for one on the season, but his 7-under mark is among the leaders after 36 holes, and he’s playing with confidence despite not having played much in the past month. We’ll see how far that takes him over the next two days and whether he can complete a nine-year circle with a win in his 214th PGA Tour event.

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