LAS VEGAS – It’s hot in Las Vegas but Rickie Fowler is not in the mood for a swim after his chances at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open were sunk by three water balls in four swings on Friday.
Fowler’s folly on a couple of holes would ultimately cruel his weekend hopes but he wasn’t alone as the field combined to produce the lowest 36-hole cut in a 72-hole event in PGA TOUR history at 7-under 135.
The TOUR has kept detailed records since 1970 and while 6 under had been the mark a few times through history – the last at this very tournament in 2008 – it is the first time a player needed to be seven deep through two rounds just to continue.
Fowler led the field in Strokes Gained: Putting during a 4-under 67 on Thursday afternoon, and it looked like his birdie on the drivable par-4 15th, his sixth hole of the second round, could have been the start of a push up the leaderboard.
Instead, he imploded on the next two holes at TPC Summerlin to drop five shots.
After a great drive down the par-5 16th, the former Las Vegas resident was left with just 218 yards to the hole. His second shot found the pond that guards the front of the green, however.
After taking a penalty drop 104 yards from the hole, he dumped his next shot in the water as well. His third attempt found dry land, but he walked away with a triple-bogey 8.
The 31-year-old then stood on the par-3 17th tee and promptly pulled his tee shot left into another water hazard to card a double-bogey. It was the second straight day Fowler made 5 on the 17th hole after hitting his tee shot in the water.
Fowler’s troubles have come during a time he’s been trying to implement swing changes. It has seen his accuracy desert him at times.
“It definitely has been tough,” Fowler said Wednesday before the tournament. “Anyone that goes through changes or even just dealing with struggles, low points, it happens at some point for everyone.”
The swing changes have been a work in progress for about a year but Fowler still trusts they will cement in soon enough and bring renewed success.
“I’ve never doubted it just because there has been some rounds or some tournaments here and there where seeing the work kind of come through,” Fowler said. “Just haven’t been able to piece everything together and really put it into a really efficient, consistent form yet. But that is coming. We’re just beating down the door.”
Fowler tried valiantly to make up for his two hole meltdown on Friday, making three birdies in the first seven holes of the front side but bogeys on his final two holes, as he tried to press, resulted in a 3-over 74 and an end to his tournament.
Fowler wasn’t the only high profile player finishing up early at Shriners. Collin Morikawa (69-67), Hideki Matsuyama (68-69), Jason Day (68-72) joined him while Francesco Molinari (70-68) failed to make the weekend in his first tournament in seven months.