Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Golf

Bogey trouble puts Rickie Fowler in bad spot at Players Championship

PONTE VEDRA BEACH — Rickie Fowler figured it was time someone won back to back at the Players Championship. But it probably won't be this year.

One year after Fowler's birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie finish and playoff victory, two double bogeys appeared to have doomed him. The second one came Friday when he hit out of a bunker into the water on the 14th hole, and two more bogeys on the back nine left him too far back to do much about it.

Fowler shot 1-under 71 before play was suspended because of darkness after a weather delay and was at 1-under 143 for 36 holes. After two days of low scoring, it was one shot below the projected cut line, which was not likely to change.

"Hitting fairways, hitting green, I feel like I did a decent job of that this week," Fowler said. "I wouldn't say it was stellar by any means, but I did make a lot of good swings, and I feel like I played pretty well tee to green, other than a couple of holes."

The culprit was his putter.

ISLAND ACE: Will Wilcox celebrated his hole-in-one on the 17th hole as if it came with a five-year PGA Tour exemption.

With a pitching wedge from 147 yards, his yellow golf ball landed on the back tier of the island green and rolled gently from right to left into the cup. It's a big deal when anyone makes an ace. But this is the most famous hole at TPC Sawgrass, and it had been 14 years since the last hole-in-one on it.

"If you don't freak out in that moment … I've seen so many tour players make hole-in-ones and hole shots and they're just like, nothing," said Wilcox, a 29-year-old free spirit from Alabama. "Like, 'What's wrong with you?' So especially in that situation, I get pumped up."

Miguel Angel Jimenez made an ace on 17 in 2002. Only five other players have made a hole-in-one on it in 35 years at the Stadium Course: Paul Azinger, Joey Sindelar, Fred Couples, Brian Claar and Brad Fabel.

SEARCH AND RESCUE: Dustin Johnson was on the fourth green when his caddie brother, Austin, tossed him the ball after cleaning it. Dustin let it slip through his hands, and it rolled down the slope of the green, off the green and into the water. The ball was marked on the green, but under Rule 15-2, it would be a two-shot penalty to switch balls. Austin went into the water, leaving his tennis shoes on, to fish it out. He found it, and Dustin finished the hole with a par.

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