After a week of enjoying his Olympics experience everywhere other than on the golf course, Rickie Fowler finally started flashing some smiles inside the ropes on Saturday. Fowler went off early and fired a 64 -- the second-lowest round of the week -- to climb from 50th place into the top 20 at the time of him signing his card.
Fowler went out in 29, which included a holed wedge for eagle from 73 yards on the par-4 ninth hole. He birdied the 10th hole, but stalled on the Olympic Course's difficult stretch of holes as the wind picked up. Not that he seemed disappointed at all after.
"The game's been very close for awhile," Fowler told NBC/Golf Channel. "I've been putting in a lot of work . . . Today was the start of it."
Fowler, whose special week included having Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey follow him around on Friday, has struggled since a hot start to 2016. So much so that he's fallen to 12th in the U.S. Ryder Cup standings, something that prompted him to commit to playing in next week's Wyndham Championship after the conclusion of his second round in Rio. The top eight players on the list following the Barclays later this month automatically qualify for the team with four captain's picks being made after.
But while playing for the U.S. at Hazeltine is certainly on Fowler's mind, he'd also like to bring home some hardware while representing Team USA this week. When asked if his strategy might change a little with second and third place meaning so much in Rio, Fowler said this:
"A little bit. . . You look at the scores and where you might get rewarded for a good round tomorrow," he said. "I really gave myself a good chance to backdoor a medal."
A "good chance" might be stretching it a little, but another 64 would certainly go a long way. And Fowler knows getting on that medal stand would feel really good -- no matter what route is taken.