PALM BEACH GARDENS -- Ask Rickie Fowler, and he’ll tell you the Honda Classic hasn’t even started.
Fowler, who shot a tidy 1-under-par 69 on Saturday for a 5-under 205 total for three rounds, thinks good things come to those who wait.
In fact, he might even wait until the final nine holes to make his run at the championship.
“Thursday is just about getting off to a good start,” Fowler said after his Saturday round on the Champion Course at PGA National Golf Resort & Spa. “Then Friday, Saturday, you’re just trying to put yourself into position going into Sunday.
“The biggest thing is being within a few shots going into the back nine on Sunday. That’s where the tournament really starts.”
Fowler, 24, almost certain to be wearing one of his closing-day Oklahoma State orange outfits, is likely to be the second-most followed golfer on the course Sunday. The most-followed, as he always is, will be Tiger Woods, even if he is eight strokes back.
Fowler, who is three strokes behind co-leaders Luke Guthrie and Michael Thompson, is enjoying the difficulty of the Champion Course and considers the wind and high rough as simply challenges to be overcome.
“I just love using my imagination,” he said. “Coming up with different shots, using the wind as kind of a friend.
“All that kind of tricks up the golf course a little bit and makes you play a little differently.”
Fowler polished off Saturday’s round and moved into contention with a birdie on 17 and an eagle on 18.
He said he was thinking it would be “… nice to finish with two birdies” but did himself one better with the final-hole eagle.
“I made a good swing on 17,” he said of the 190-yard par-3, “and then capitalized by making three on the last hole.”
The eagle on that 18th hole came when he launched his second shot to the left side of the green and the ball stayed just right of a trap and then took the green’s slope toward the hole. Fowler then holed the eagle putt, creating a large roar from the crowd.
Can he win the tournament?
Fowler’s answer is yes. And he said he plans to keep things simple.
“It’s the same game plan,” he said. “Just come out, get a little practice in the morning, get a little food in me, warm up and head to the tee. Nothing different.”