Los Angeles - Rickie Fowler survived late miscues to share
the lead at the PGA Tour Phoenix Open alongside Bryson DeChambeau on Friday, as
two-time defending champion Hideki Matsuyama withdrew injured.
Fowler, ranked seventh in the world, got off to a blazing
start at TPC Scottsdale with four birdies in his first six holes. He finished
with seven birdies in his five-under 66 for 10-under 132.
He pushed his lead to as many as two strokes before a bogey
at 17, and DeChambeau capped his 66 with back-to-back birdies at 17 and 18 to
join Fowler in the clubhouse on 10-under.
"I just feel like I'm comfortable on this golf course,
I've had quite a few rounds here and there's been a lot of good ones,"
said Fowler, adding that his plan for Saturday was to "just keep the gas
Daniel Berger and Chez Reavie both signed for 65s to lie one
stroke back on 133.
Scott Stallings carded a 65 to join a trio on 134 that also
included Chesson Hadley and Chris Kirk, who both carded 68.
Matsuyama's bid for a rare three-peat was over before the
round began as Japan's world number five withdrew prior to hitting a shot
Friday with a left wrist injury.
"The pain in my left thumb area started on 13th hole
yesterday," Matsuyama said. "I did some treatment last night, but the
pain was still there this morning when I practised. I decided that it was not
worth forcing myself to continue to play and worsen the injury, so I was
disappointed that I had to withdraw."
Former world number one Jordan Spieth also exited before the
weekend, missing the cut by a stroke after a frustrating two days amid the
raucous crowds of the Phoenix Open, where the atmosphere resembles that of a
football match more than a staid golf event.
Spieth struggled to get any putts to drop as he posted
rounds of one-over 72 and one-under 70 to lie one shot outside the projected
Spieth hadn't missed a cut since the Byron Nelson in May, a
run of 15 straight cuts made worldwide.
Fowler, whose history of strong showings in Phoenix include
a runner-up finish to Hunter Mahan in 2010 and a playoff loss to Matsuyama in 2016,
couldn't maintain early his torrid pace on the back nine, following a birdie at
the 10th with a bogey at 11.
He got back on track with bridies at 13 and 15, before a
bogey at 17, where a "funky little chip" led to a disappointing
"I still made some good swings," Fowler said of
his inward run. "Funky little chip on 17 where we were in good position to
make birdie - so a little unfortunate to make bogey. Other than that, I feel
like (it was) a solid day.
"We're in a good spot going into the weekend," he
A big group on 135 included world number two Jon Rahm of
Spain and five-time major-winner Phil Mickelson, an Arizona favorite who
birdied his last four holes en route to a 65 that left him just three back.
Leading second-round scores on Saturday in the US PGA Tour Phoenix Open in Arizona (USA unless noted, par-71):
132 - Rickie Fowler 66-66, Bryson DeChambeau 66-66
133 - Daniel Berger 68-65, Chez Reavie 68-65
134 - Chesson Hadley 66-68, Scott Stallings 69-65, Chris Kirk 66-68
135 - Vaughn Taylor 67-68, Brendan Steele 68-67, Gary Woodland 67-68, Adam Hadwin (CAN) 70-65, An Byeong-Hun (KOR) 68-67, Jon Rahm (ESP) 67-68, Xander Schauffele 68-67, Phil Mickelson 70-65, Brian Gay 67-68, Steve Stricker 68-67, Martin Laird (SCO) 68-67
136 - Ollie Schniederjans 68-68, Nick Watney 68-68, Bubba Watson 67-69, Justin Thomas 68-68, Bill Haas 64-72, Cameron Smith (AUS) 69-67, Brandt Snedeker 69-67