DUBLIN, Ohio -- Rickie Fowler is only in his second full season on Tour, but he's already playing like a seasoned veteran at one of the biggest events on the calendar.
A year after finishing second in his first Memorial Tournament, Fowler is only two shots off the lead after a 4-under 68 Thursday morning at Muirfield Village.
"I was putting the ball in play, and that's what you've got to do out here," Fowler said. "It definitely helps to come off some good rounds last year."
Fowler had a three-shot lead after 54 holes at the 2010 Memorial, but in the final round he hit a 5-iron into the water on the par-3 12th and made a double bogey. Justin Rose came from four shots back to win and afterward told Fowler, "Your time is coming."
A year later, Fowler is still waiting for his first win on Tour.
"I do think about it at times," Fowler said. "I've had a few opportunities for that and felt the nerves down the stretch. I felt like I've handled them pretty well. Just got to keep putting myself in that situation and wait for that door to open."
Fowler got a measure of revenge on that 12th hole Thursday, making a birdie after knocking his tee shot within 10 feet. He then chipped in for birdie on 13, added another birdie on the par-4 14th and holed out from the fairway for an eagle on the par-5 15th.
Fowler's momentum stalled with bogeys on 16 and 17, but he smashed a 296-yard drive on 18, stuck his approach shot and drained the 14-foot birdie putt.
"Birdie on 18 is always a nice way to finish, especially here," Fowler said. "It's a tough driving hole, tough second shot and had a tough putt, but nailed all three of them."
(Photo: Hunter Martin/Getty Images)