The Memorial: Fowler’s run of solid play carries him into contention

By The Columbus Dispatch  • 
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Lisa Marie Miller | Dispatch
Windy conditions didn’t bother Rickie Fowler, who shot a 3-under-par 69 in the third round. He is three strokes off the lead entering today’s final round.

A month ago, Rickie Fowler was the best PGA Tour player without a win.

Now, he’s playing as if he’s the best with one.

The 23-year-old neon sign won his first tour event on May 6 at the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, N.C. In his past four tournaments dating to the week before his win, he hasn’t finished outside the top 10.

He’s in position for that again, or more, today.

Fowler had only one bogey in a 3-under-par 69 yesterday that left him in third place at 5-under 211 and three shots back entering the final round of the Memorial Tournament.

The 69 matched the best score in a windy third round at Muirfield Village Golf Club.

“I love playing in the wind,” said Fowler, a southern California native who played two seasons at Oklahoma State before turning pro three years ago. “I wouldn’t mind it being like this (today). You’ve got to hit good golf shots and got to hit the ball solidly.”

Fowler’s latest run, which has elevated him 20 spots in the world ranking, to No. 19, began with a tie for 10th at New Orleans. The following Sunday, he finally broke through in Charlotte. Since then, he has tied for second in the Players Championship and, last week, for fifth at Colonial.

He said his run has been built on “just being patient and kind of staying in the moment and not getting ahead of ourselves and just kind of focusing on each swing and staying really calm.

“I’ve been swinging really well, so that’s obviously helped me stay very calm and collected out there. I’m very confident with my game and where I’m at mentally.”

He has good reason to be comfortable and confident in his surroundings.

Just after leaving Oklahoma State in 2009, he played in the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Invitational at the Ohio State Scarlet Course as an amateur and lost in a sudden-death playoff.

He qualified for the Memorial as a tour rookie in 2010, opened with 65-66 and ended up second to Justin Rose. He tied for 22nd last year.

“I’ve hit a lot of good shots around here, so I’ve probably at least birdied every hole or had good shots on all holes out here. So I’m definitely able to go into every hole out here comfortable and knowing that we’ve played it well and hit some good shots there.

“I’m looking forward to (today). Anywhere being around the lead on Sunday is good around here.”& amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; lt; /p>

bbaptist@dispatch.com

@DispatchGolf

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