Paired with Woods, Fowler's fortunes wane

March, 23, 2013

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Rickie Fowler plays plenty of golf with Tiger Woods when they are home in South Florida at the Medalist Club. So familiarity is not a problem.

But Fowler had not fared all that well when paired with Woods on the PGA Tour, especially in two notable examples.

One was earlier this year at the Farmers Insurance Open, where Fowler opened with a 77 while Woods had a 68 on his way to a victory. Perhaps more significant was last year at the Memorial Tournament, where both were in contention. Woods shot a final-round 67 to win; Fowler had 84.

"After Memorial, I'm looking for a little redemption," Fowler said Saturday after a third-round 67 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational put him in the final group with Woods, who leads by two. "I'm feeling good about the pairing, about my game. He's definitely the guy to beat but I'll be right there to see what's going on.

"With him having leads on courses he loves like this and Torrey Pines and Doral -- and I'm sure there are others -- he's basically never lost with a lead in the final round. So I'm going in there with the attitude that I have nothing to lose, and we'll see what happens from there."

Justin Rose appeared ready to run away with the tournament, playing the first four holes in 4 under par, including an eagle at the 4th. But he made just one birdie the rest of the way and five bogeys to shoot even-par 72 and fall two strokes back. He is tied for second, two strokes behind Woods.

"Obviously a great start,'' he said. "It was quite funny, actually, the energy disappeared big time. My legs went on me almost out there. I don't know if it was fatigue or didn't eat right or something, but I was struggling. My legs were going, and I made some loose swings coming down the stretch and [was] really trying to hang onto that.''

Sunday's weather conditions could have an interesting effect on the outcome. It is expected to be warm and windy, with thunderstorms possible. The wind is expected to be 25 mph. Those kind of conditions typically favor Woods when he had a lead. Last year he led by one stroke over Graeme McDowell heading into the final round, and shot 2-under-par 70 in gusty conditions when only two other players went lower. Woods won by five.