Aussie Smith trails Fowler by three at Phoenix Open
RICKIE Fowler has birdied the final four holes to earn a one-stroke lead over Justin Thomas in the second round of the PGA Tour's Phoenix Open in Arizona.
They are sharing a house this week but Fowler will not be doing too much trash talking just yet, not with a recent world No.1 breathing down his neck.
"Your buddies, those are the people you want to lose to least," a smiling Fowler told Golf Channel after a six-under-par 65 at Scottsdale TPC on Friday (local time).
He posted a 13-under 129 total, one in front of Thomas (66) and two clear of Branden Grace and Trey Mullinax, whose 64s were the best of the round.
Australian Cameron Smith is three off the pace after making six birdies to finish the day on 65. He's tied for fifth with Matt Kuchar.
Fowler was frustrated by his putting for much of the round, missing a series of short putts before things finally clicked over the closing holes.
"I had a chance to birdie the last seven," he said after knocking in a 3.5m putt at the last.
"I hit some really good putts to finish the day off."
Fowler lost a play-off at the event in 2016 and was the 54-hole leader last year. He is yet to win the tournament, which is renowned for its enthusiastic and vocal gallery.
Fowler and Thomas will play in the final group on Saturday and probably car pool to the course again.
Playing in his 30th Phoenix Open, Phil Mickelson shot 75 and finished one over to miss the cut.
Australian Aaron Baddeley also missed the cut after carding a 77 and finishing four over.
A temporary memorial will be placed at No.16 during Saturday's third round to honour Australian golfer Jarrod Lyle.
Lyle died last year from cancer and a replica of his Titleist staff bag and clubs will be on display at the famous party hole.
The memorial will include the eight-iron Lyle used when he ace the hole in 2011.