Rickie Fowler took us back to the good times in the second round of the ZOZO Championship, carding a 63 that was reminiscent of his game's peak.
Despite admitting that he hasn't had his best swing in the first two days at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club, Fowler scored seven birdies and no bogeys to reach 10-under-par for the week after a first round-67.
The American, who has won five times on the PGA Tour, last shot a 63 at the CJ Cup towards the start of last season. He went on to finish tied third that week behind Rory McIlroy.
After the first round in Japan, Fowler admitted he missed his old caddie Joe Skovron who now loops for Tom Kim. Now with Ricky Romano on the bag and Butch Harmon re-appointed as his coach following his split from John Tillery, the 33-year-old's career changes could be for the best.
"The last two days I wouldn’t say I had my best swing-wise. I kind of did a good job of managing my way around," Fowler said.
"But I'll get some work in tomorrow before the round and try and exaggerate a few things where I'm a little bit tighter in lines and flights that I want. But I can’t complain about a 63.
"I’m very happy with where we’re at. Obviously didn’t have the week we wanted last week, and drove it poorly, but with some of the changes we’ve made and to have the finish that we did at Napa and kind of seeing a lot of good things, I'm definitely happy about it and excited to be here and off to a good start."
He missed the cut at the Shriners Children's Open last week, but finished tied for sixth at the Fortinet Championship. Every top-10 finish is precious for Fowler whose exempt status on the Tour runs out in 2023.
Andrew Putnam went one better than Fowler in the second round, carding an outstanding 62 to share the lead with his fellow American. This is the new course record at Narashino Country Club.
They both lead by one shot from Keegan Bradley and Keita Nakajima is flying the flag for Japan in fifth place on 7-under-par. Hideki Matsuyama has only managed scores of 71 and 69 to sit in tied 49th place.
Collin Morikawa, looking for his first win since The Open Championship in 2021, shot an impressive 64 to reach 5-under-par, while young Norweigan Viktor Hovland shot a 66 to reach the same score.