In an Accenture Match Play Championship with a youthful complexion, Rickie Fowler was dressed in matching pink shoes and shirt when he walked onto the driving range and past his opponent, Phil Mickelson, who looked him up and down and smiled.
“Sophia has some shoes like that,” Mickelson said, referring to his 9-year-old daughter. “She wears them to her dance class.”
Mickelson has become somewhat of a mentor to Fowler, so the kid knew what was coming.
Once they got onto the course, Fowler was hotter than his choice of color at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club in Marana, Ariz.
Fowler was 8-under par when their match ended on the 13th hole, a 6-and-5 win that sent Mickelson to his career-worst loss in this fickle tournament.
“I love guys like Phil. In a way, he’s taken me under his wing a bit,” Fowler said. “I love watching him play. I love playing with him. And obviously, it was huge for me going out there and getting the job done today.”
Fowler was 5 under over the last four holes, which included a chip-in for birdie from behind the 10th green and a pair of eagles, the last one with a 4-iron from 232 yards that landed just beyond a ridge and rolled so close that Mickelson conceded the putt.
“He doesn’t really have a weakness,” Mickelson said. “He really is a complete player, and he put it together today.”
Fowler had plenty of company.
Equally impressive was Italy’s teen sensation, 17-year-old Matteo Manassero, who hit a 6-iron to 4 feet on the 17th hole and closed out Charl Schwartzel of South Africa to advance
Of the final 16 players left at the tournament, eight are under 30.
That includes Puyallup’s 28-year-old Ryan Moore, who defeated K.J. Choi, 5 and 4, and Nick Watney, 29 and Moore’s opponent today. Watney steadied his emotions over the last three holes to knock out top-ranked Lee Westwood — the third straight year the No. 1 seed did not make it out of the second round. The highest seed remaining after two wild days was PGA champion Martin Kaymer, the 25-year-old “Germanator” who had to go 20 holes to beat Justin Rose.
Japan’s Chie Arimura overcame strong winds to shoot a 4-under 68 and take a one stroke lead after the first round of the HSBC Women’s Championship at the Tanah Merah Country Club in Singapore. Korea’s Na Yeon Choi shot a 69, and world No. 1 Yani Tseng of Taiwan finished the day in a group of four players at 70. American Natalie Gulbis finished with a 1-under 71 in a group of six players, while Michelle Wie was 1 over after three bogies and two birdies. Japan’s Kodai Ichihara had seven birdies in a bogey-free round of 7-under 65 to take a one-stroke lead after the first round of the two-round international qualifying tournament in Bangkok, Thailand, for the British Open at Royal St. George’s in July.