Fowler, Scheffler Tied for AmEx Lead After 64s

Rickie Fowler has played in the PGA Tour’s California desert event only twice previously even though he grew up only two hours away in Murrieta, but now he looks like he’s been playing the courses in La Quinta all his life.

The 31-year-old Fowler (pictured) carded a bogey-free, 8-under-par 64 at on the Nicklaus Tournament Course at PGA West and is tied for the lead with rookie Scottie Scheffler midway through The American Express, which most famously was known as the Bob Hope Desert Classic during its 61 years.

“As we’ve seen over the years, these courses are score-able, but it’s a fine line,” said Fowler, who missed the cut in 2010 and tied for 33rd in his two previous starts in the tournament. “If you’re just a little bit off, you can struggle. If you drive it well, you’re going to have good opportunities to make birdies, but if you are a little bit off, you are struggling for pars.

“I did a good job of keeping the ball in the rights spots, hitting the ball where I wanted to. I made a nice eagle at No. 4 and had a couple of good pars saves near the finish. That’s two of the three courses down and I’m looking forward to playing the Stadium Course tomorrow.”

Fowler birdied the 11th and 12th holes after starting on the back nine, and then added four birdies and the eagle with coming home on the front to record a 36-hole score of 15-under 129.

Scheffler, 23, who won twice last year on the Korn Ferry Tour and led the money list to punch his ticket to the PGA Tour, also shot 64 at La Quinta CC despite a double bogey-6 on the 18th hole. He nearly took the lead when his approach shot as he finished on the ninth hole danced around the cup and stopped inches away to set up his final birdie.

“Wish the double wasn’t in there, but it was still a very good score,” said Scheffler, who has three top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour this season, including a tie for third in the Bermuda Championship and a tie for fifth in the RSM Classic. “I’m playing well and just trying to put myself in contention every week.

“I feel like I’ve been playing pretty well, just doing a good job managing my game, giving myself a lot of looks. I got off to a pretty hot start today and kept playing pretty solid, even after that double on 18, just staying in a good place mentally and was able to hit some good shots.”

Andrew Landry collected nine birdies in his own 64 at La Quinta Country Club and is one stroke back in third, while Tony Finau, coming off fifth-place in the Hong Kong Open on the Asian Tour last week, recorded the low score of the day with a 62 on the Nicklaus Course and is one more down in fourth, followed by Bud Cauley, who is three shots behind in fourth after 64 on the Nicklaus Course.

Sungjae Im of South Korea, the 2019 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, shot 66 on the Nicklaus course and is four strokes back in a tie for sixth with Ted Potter Jr., who had a 63 at La Quinta CC, Cameron Davis of Australia, who totaled 67 on the Stadium Course at PGA West, Ryan Moore, who recorded a 65 on the Nicklaus Course, Wes Roach, who finished at 65 on the Nicklaus Course, and Chase Seiffert, who wound up at 67 at LaQuinta CC.

Bill Haas, who won the tournament in 2010 and 2015, shot a second straight 68 and is tied for 26th, defending champion Adam Long is tied for 68th after a 70 and tournament host Phil Mickelson, the 2002 and 2004 winner, needs a big third round to make the 54-hole cut after a 72 on the Nicklaus Course left him in a tie for 110th. All three played on the Nicklaus Course.

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