Published: Mon, February 27, 2017
Sport | By Noel Norman

Rickie Fowler builds 4-shot lead in Honda Classic

Rickie Fowler builds 4-shot lead in Honda Classic

The world No 14 picked up further shots at the third and fourth, but a poor tee-shot to the par-three seventh cost him another bogey as he slipped to eight under, one ahead of India's Anirban Lahiri.

The rest of the field likely needs Fowler to falter Sunday to have a legitimate chance, but there are some strong golfers lurking if that happens.

Walker, Dufner and Johnson would stand out as huge threats if they were a few shots closer, but the Honda Classic is Fowler's tournament to lose.

Asked if that four-shot advantage is enough, Fowler said with a smile, "I'd like to have 10 ... or more". Fowler said the chip would have been relatively standard, and that he used the putter only because of bare grass from where players had been walking.

Leading by one going into the weekend, Fowler shot 74-71 the final two rounds.

Fowler entered the 18th hole with a comfortable lead, but he managed to put an exclamation point on his excellent round. But he went long on the 17th and was perplexed by the Bermuda grass that he rarely sees. He still made bogey. His Masters victory in 2013 helped get him to No. 2 in the world that year and he hovered near the No. 1 spot, cementing it with a victory at the PGA Tour event at Colonial Country Club in May that year.

Fowler, at 13-under 197, made two birdies over the last three holes at relatively benign PGA National as everyone else around him was making mistakes.

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Big names miss cut: Two years ago, Padraig Harrington and Jupiter's Daniel Berger went to a playoff for the Honda Classic title, which was won by Harrington.

Hatton is competing this week on an invitation and in his first event of seven tournaments he will contest in the United States and Mexico up to an including the May 11th commencing Players Championship. He hasn't had a PGA Tour victory since the 2015 Deutsche Bank Championship.

Also at 203 were Emiliano Grillo of Argentina and Sean O'Hair of Chadds Ford, Pa., who both shot 65, Gary Woodland (66) of Topeka, Kan., and Martin Kaymer (68) of Germany.

"I definitely need to put myself in this position more often, which is just going to lead to me winning more often", the 28-year-old added.

"I was able to score well and manage it well and scramble well early on to keep the momentum going", Fowler said. He has three top 15s at the Honda Classic including last year's T6.

"He's a great ball-striker and good guy", Fowler said. "I'm definitely in a better position that past year".

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