Road match for Fowler on Saturday as former Cat Furyk awaits

2014-02-22T00:00:00Z 2014-02-22T00:11:26Z Road match for Fowler on Saturday as former Cat Furyk awaitsBy Daniel Berk Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

In 2011, Rickie Fowler roamed the sidelines at Boone Pickens Stadium minutes before the Arizona Wildcats and Oklahoma State played a Thursday primetime football game.

Decked out in orange and black, Fowler posed for pictures with Wilbur T. Wildcat and cheered on his alma mater as the Cowboys rolled Arizona 37-14.

Today at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship at Dove Mountain, Fowler will be the enemy again. The 25-year-old will take on former Arizona Wildcat Jim Furyk in the quarterfinals.

The two will tee off at 10:20 a.m.

“He’s a bulldog,” Fowler said of Furyk. “It won’t be easy, and he’ll have a lot of fans in his corner. Hopefully it’ll be 50-50.”

Fowler posted a 1 up victory over Sergio Garcia in improbable fashion Friday to get to today’s quarterfinals.

Garcia charged out to a 2 up lead through six holes and was sitting pretty on the par-4 seventh. Fowler was 17 feet 7 inches away from the hole, and Garcia was just 7 feet away.

As Fowler was lining up his putt and preparing to putt, Garcia interrupted.

“He said, ‘Do you want to halve it?’ ” Fowler said. “And I was like ‘what?’ He repeated it again, and I still didn’t get it, and finally he was like, ‘Do you want to halve the hole?’ I was like ‘OK.’

“Obviously it’s not something you see every day. He was 10 feet closer than me in good shape, but I wasn’t going to say no.”

Garcia’s explanation for the move went back a hole.

On the par-3 sixth hole, Garcia’s ball landed on a sprinkler head to the right of the hole. When he went to play the shot, a small swarm of bees surrounded his ball. He waited several minutes for the bees to clear before taking a drop. He had to take a second drop when the bees didn’t vanish and finally finished the hole after a several-minute delay.

After the hole, he felt bad about the delay, prompting his decision to halve No. 7 with Fowler.

A nice, but not-so-smart decision by the Spaniard.

“I had some bad experiences with bees as a youngster,” Garcia said. “I felt quite uncomfortable hitting the shot.”

He continued: “I don’t regret it at all. This is a gentleman’s game, and lately it hasn’t felt like it’s been like that. This is the way I was brought up by my dad playing golf.”

Garcia has been in the center of a couple of different controversies in the last year. He said Friday was a chance to change public opinion of him.

In May at the Players Championship, Garcia accused Tiger Woods of moving during Garcia’s backswing and causing a commotion in the gallery. And then just last month, while he was playing a tournament in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, a television viewer called in a potential Garcia rules violation that turned out to be nothing.

“I hope this maybe changes the perception a bit,” Garcia said.

It might succeed, but it helped end his stay on Dove Mountain.

Garcia actually birdied the

next hole to take a three-shot lead, but then saw Fowler win four of the final 10 holes to win the match.

He ended it with an exclamation mark on No. 18. He blasted a drive 355 yards, leaving just 94 yards to the pin. He then left his second shot just 4 feet from the hole and knocked it in for birdie after Garcia missed his 18-foot birdie putt.

“It feels really good to make it to the weekend,” said Fowler, who has missed the cut in his last three events. “Obviously I haven’t been playing well at all lately, and it feels good to kinda get back on track. My putting and short game has been the key I think, and hopefully I keep it going. I’m having a lot of fun out there.”

In Furyk, today’s opponent, Fowler faces a former teammate. The two were on the same squad in 2010 at the Ryder Cup and halved a match against Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer.

There, Furyk saved Fowler with a wedge shot on 18 that landed just 4 feet from the hole. Fowler knocked in a birdie putt to halve the match after Fowler made a pair of costly mistakes on the front nine.

Furyk advanced to today’s quarters with a 1 up win over Harris English. The two were all squared through 15, but Furyk holed a chip on the par-3 16th from 30 feet to take a one-hole lead. After the two birdied No. 17, Furyk held English off with par on No. 18 to win the match.

“Rickie and I are friends,” Furyk said. “When we paired up together, I saw a real fearless guy. Not a lot bothers him. He was a great partner there, and he’ll be a tough match tomorrow.

“There’s no easy matches tomorrow.”

Saturday's tee times

Tee timePlayer (seed)Player (seed)
10:05 a.m.Louis Ooshtuizen (32)Jason Day (8)
10:20 a.m.Jim Furyk (20)Rickie Fowler (53)
11:45 a.m.Ernie Els (31)Jordan Spieth (10)
NoonGraeme McDowell (14)Victor Dubuisson (27)

Contact reporter Daniel Berk at 573-4330 or dberk@azstarnet.com. On Twitter @DSBerk.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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