Wednesday, March 29, 2017

McIlroy, Fowler move into contention with 65s

ORLANDO, Fla. – Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler had early tee times on Saturday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, but they’ll be able to sleep in on Sunday after both superstars posted 7-under 65s at Bay Hill.

Fowler – decked out in a yellow shirt, lime-green pants and Puma shoes with a collage of Palmer pictures – double bogeyed the third hole but was flawless the rest of the round. He made three straight birdies after the double, and then he fired a back-nine 30 for the lowest round of the week.

“I felt good warming up this morning with the swing and knew it had the potential to be a good day,” Fowler said.

Fowler’s round was almost derailed by a sloppy second shot on the par-4 11th that came up short of the green and rolled into the water. Fortunately for Fowler, his ball came to rest in a shallow area, so he was able to splash out his third just like a bunker shot.

He struck it perfectly and watched as the ball rolled toward the hole and clanked off the flagstick for an easy par.

“I wanted to try and keep the green pants clean,” Fowler joked. “Really unfortunate that didn’t go in, perfect shot. I was just glad to get it out.”

McIlroy matched Fowler about an hour later with a bogey-free 65 of his own. After birdieng both front-nine par 5s, McIlroy added three more on 10, 11 and 12 and closed with birdies on 17 and 18.

“It’s the sort of score that I was waiting on,” McIlroy said. “I felt like it was in there, it was just a matter of trying to put it all together and today I did.”

McIlroy finished at 6 under par, one stroke ahead of Fowler. Both players will have a chance to don a red cardigan on Sunday, and Fowler tweeted at McIlroy to put on another show in the final round.

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