Australian shakes off rust, climbs up Constellation leader board

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Peter Fowler of Australia put his bid in to become one of the major contenders, shooting a 2-under par 68 Friday to finish at 7-under par and tied for eighth with three other players after the second day of the Constellation Senior Players Championship at Fox Chapel Golf Club.

All that is impressive, even moreso when you consider he was one of the last players to join the field, doing so only after Don Pooley withdrew Wednesday.

“I drove it pretty well the last couple days,” Fowler said. “That’s the real key. It’s quite a long course, so you don’t want to be playing out of the rough too much.

“I also had a little bit of rhythm on the green, so I was pretty happy about that.”

At first, Fowler, 55, was just happy to be in the tournament. Now, he is four shots behind second-round leader Bernhard Langer and has a chance to win.

Fowler has used a combination of accuracy and power for two consistent rounds. After hitting 9 of 14 fairways in the first round, he bumped it up to 11 of 14 in the second round.

But hitting the fairways isn’t enough to assure a successful round, and Fowler solved that issue by hitting 14 of 18 greens in each round.

“The greens [were] quicker,” he said. “There are quite a few slopes, so you have to be careful … I think once it dries out, it will be quite tough.”

While being at the top of the leader board is Fowler’s goal, it was far from a given that he would have the opportunity to finish in the top 10, let alone win.

Fowler has played sparingly on the Champions Tour. The only other tournament in which he has competed this year was the Senior PGA Championship in May, and he didn’t make the cut. Furthermore, his previous notable success came when he finished sixth at the Senior Open Championship in July. On the other hand, he has finished in the top 10 in at least one tournament every year since 2011.

“I played a few weeks in Australia and New Zealand in regional stuff, which was good fun and a chance to work on my game,” Fowler said. “I’ve had a couple of injuries and a few operations on my knee, so that slowed me down for a few months this year.

“I played terrible at the [Senior PGA Championship], so the last month I’ve really worked hard and have practiced with a close friend of mind in London … so, I think that’s really helping.”

Fowler said the soft greens have created a lot of spin while being quite fast, so the key for him for the next two rounds will be improved wedge play. He said the distance of his wedges is what he planned to work on before the third round today.

Fowler will have 36 holes to catch Langer, who sits at 11 under after shooting a 64 Friday.

RJ Schaffer: and Twitter @rjschaffer.

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