American golfer Rickie Fowler wasn’t the only player to find himself in a “sticky” situation on Friday. Several PGA veterans and top-seeded golfers found the Golf Club at Dove Mountain in Marana, Ariz. to be difficult in the Sweet 16 matchups.
Of the top 12 seeded players beginning play on Wednesday, only two remain—No. 2 seed Jason Day and No. 3 seed Jordan Spieth.
A third round of upset-laden matches were par for the course on Friday as we bid adieu to two No. 2 seeds, a No. 3 seed and a No. 4 seed—all to higher seeded players. Of the remaining eight golfers, three were considered underdogs receiving a seeding of eight or higher.
Rickie Fowler Is Unstoppable
One of the more stylishly flamboyant golfers on the PGA Tour, who never fails to bring it with his fashion sense hasn’t brought it when it comes to his golfing.
Fowler’s last and only PGA tour victory was the Wells Fargo Championship in May 2012. His highest finish in a major was tied for fifth in the Open Championship in 2011. Fowler recently finished tied for 10th in last year’s U.S. Open.
So, forgive the powers that be who seeded Fowler at No. 14.
Fowler has shown that he is for real in Marana. He has taken down three of the top 25 golfers in the world, according to Official World Golf Rankings, coming in at No. 56, down three spots from last week.
No.2 seed Sergio Garcia, who was leading 2-up on the front nine, conceded a putt on the seventh hole, in essence, handing the entire match to Fowler. The American would go on to win on the final hole with a birdie while Garcia parred.
After going down three skins through eight holes, Fowler knew what he had to do but would his actions speak louder than words down the stretch?
I would say so.
Fowler birdied holes nine and 10 to bring the deficit back to one and he kept it close with five straight halving holes through 15, including a birdie on 11 as well as a bogey on 14. Fowler finally tied it up with a birdie on the short 16th hole and won it all with a closing birdie on 18.
Fowler’s Saturday opponent will be crowd favorite, University of Arizona alum, Jim Furyk.
8 Is Great in This State
Two No. 8 seeds, both from South Africa and both intricately intertwined with the other, could meet in the semifinals on Sunday. Both golfers defeated a lower-seeded player on Friday, hot on the heels of knocking out their bracket’s top-seed golfer on Thursday.
Louis Oosthuizen made quick work of No. 5 seed Webb Simpson 5 and 4. Simpson birdied on the fifth hole to take a 1-up lead, but it was his last birdie and last lead of the tournament. Ooosthuizen would win the next three holes and six of the next eight, eventually taking the victory after the 14th hole.
Ernie Els’ journey would take a little longer than 14 holes, but he was surely happy to win on Friday in regulation after needing playoff holes in his previous two matches.
No. 4 seed Jason Dufner took an early 2-up lead after three holes but his bogeys on the fifth and sixth holes brought the golfers back to even. Els would take a 2-up lead of his own after 12 holes before returning to even after 17. Els’ clutch birdie putt on 18 secured a victory—in regulation for the South African veteran.
Oosthuizen will face No. 2 seed Jason Day for the Bobby Jones championship, while Els will take on No. 3 seed Jordan Spieth for supremacy in the Gary Player bracket.
Hometown (Sort Of) Hero Making Good Back in Tucson
The 43-year-old from West Chester, Penn., now makes his residence in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., but he lived in Tucson from 1988 to 1992 attending the University of Arizona. Furyk was a two-time All-American at Arizona and led the Wildcats to the lone NCAA title in 1992.
Chants of “U of A” could be heard across the course by lubricated Tucsonans showing their pride and at the same time, their age.
Furyk struggled mightily to begin Friday’s match, dropping two of the first three to Harris English. Furyk found himself 3-down after six holes but would eventually right the ship, knocking in birdies at seven and 12. Coupled with English’s bogey on 10, the golfers were all square moving to the 13th hole.
A back-and-forth lead change on holes 14 through 16 provided great entertainment for the crowd but when Furyk matched birdies on 17, the crowd went wild. He would maintain the 1-up advantage through 18 to claim victory.
A daunting task for Furyk lies ahead in taking on Rickie Fowler for the Ben Hogan championship on Saturday.
Graeme McDowell Shows His Staying Power
No. 4 seed Graeme McDowell and No. 8 seed Hunter Mahan were not the last golfers to tee off on Friday, but they were the last to finish. A marathon 21-hole match was sealed on McDowell’s birdie on the third playoff hole.
Mahan won the first two holes but McDowell evened things back up after five holes were completed, and it was a dogfight from there for the next five holes before Mahan birdied 11 to take the 1-up lead. A rollercoaster ride was in store for Mahan hitting a double-bogey on 14 followed by consecutive birdies.
McDowell needed to take the final two holes to send it to a playoff and Mahan helped with a bogey on 17, but the glory was all McDowell’s when he birdied 18. The golfers halved the first two playoff holes before McDowell sank the birdie on the third hole, claiming the victory.
Facing McDowell in the Sam Snead championship bracket will be No. 7 seed Victor Dubuisson.
The Frenchman Defeats the Good ‘Ol Boy
George Lester Watson, Jr., otherwise known as “Bubba,” the good ‘ol boy from the “Redneck Riviera” couldn’t catch a break on Friday in Marana.
Victor Dubuisson took an early 2-up lead after as many holes and never looked back. Watson did his best to keep it close, winning five skins, but Dubuisson never relinquished the lead and won 1-up after 18.
When it seemed that Dubuisson was ready to finish off Watson after taking a 3-up lead after 14, Watson responded with birdies on 15 and 17. Watson needed the skin on 18 to bring the golfers even but ended up with a par giving Dubuisson the only wire-to-wire victory of the day.
The Sam Snead bracket will set the Frenchman, Dubuisson against Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell.