PALM BEACH GARDENS – Rickie Fowler isn’t setting any course records at the Honda Classic. He’ll gladly settle for more great golf, and the 36-hole lead.
Fowler got back to work last week in Florida after his big disappointment in the Phoenix Open and shot the course record at The Medalist (66). The next day, he went an hour north to The Floridian and shot 60 to break the course record held by Justin Thomas.
He set a more obscure record Friday with his 4-under 66 to build a one-shot lead over Jimmy Walker. Fowler became the first player to go bogey-free over the opening 36 holes in the Honda Classic since it moved to PGA National in 2007.
“That’s a big accomplishment around this golf course — not just one day, but back-to-back,” Fowler said. “So pleased with how I’ve managed my game.”
In his first start since Fowler lost a two-shot lead with two holes in Phoenix, he put himself right back in position to win.
Fowler was at 8-under 132, one shot ahead of Jimmy Walker, who finished his round of 66 with a 25-foot birdie on the 17th and a 40-foot eagle putt on No. 18. Sergio Garcia, playing with Fowler, stayed with him until the final four holes. Garcia had a 69 and was two shots behind.
Adam Scott also played bogey-free in wind that was slightly calmer and in warmer weather. He holed a 10-foot eagle putt on the third hole and two-putted for birdie on his final hole for a 65 that left him three shots behind.
Hideki Matsuyama withdrew before the second round started after complaining of pain in his hip joint area.
Matsuyama had finished the first round six strokes off the lead at 1-over-par 71 on Thursday.
Scott has yet to shoot over par in 10 rounds this year, with nine of those rounds in the 60s.
“It’s starting to get really solid, and I’ve got to just keep doing that and let the confidence build,” Scott said.
Rory McIlroy left without speaking and won’t be coming back this week. He missed the cut for the second straight year at the Honda Classic.
McIlroy tried to play off a muddy patch in the hazard left of the par-3 fifth green, hit off the rocks into the water, took a penalty drop and made triple bogey. A birdie on the final hole gave him a 72, though he missed the cut by one shot.
The cut was at 3-over 143, and Phil Mickelson made it on the number. Mickelson, coming off a runnerup finish at Pebble Beach after losing a two-shot lead going into the final round, failed to make a birdie in his round of 74.
“I hit 15 greens today and I didn’t make a single birdie. That’s a frustrating deal,” Mickelson said. “I hit a lot of good shots. I’m really not complaining. I just had a hard time getting it in the hole. I don’t know what to say. The score certainly wasn’t very good, but felt like I played all right.”
Fowler had a similar round to Thursday — no bogeys, a 66, and tough par save on his 10th hole to keep his round going. He chipped in for par on No. 10 in the opening round.