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ABU DHABI (Reuters) - Rickie Fowler admitted he is struggling for rhythm after slumping to a third-round 73 at Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship on Saturday which left him among the tournament’s also-rans.
The American began his Middle East debut confidently, matching world number one and playing partner Rory McIlroy with a first-round five-under 67.
But a triple bogey in a second-round 75 dashed any hopes Fowler had of adding to his meager trophy haul and the 26-year-old was unable to arrest his form slump in Saturday’s third round.
“It’s just golf, it was a little rough today,” a downbeat Fowler told Reuters.
“The course is great, nothing has changed. I just got into a bad rhythm for a couple of days. I made some good swings on the last.”
Fowler, relegated to the early starters after narrowly making the cut, did little positive on the front nine, bogeying the sixth hole as he struggled to find the fairways.
He double-bogeyed the 10th, made his first birdie on 13, dropped another shot at 15 before a final-hole eagle added gloss to a tough day on the National course.
Fowler said that last putt would give him something to take into Sunday’s final round after which he will fly home to the United States to begin his build-up to April’s U.S. Masters.
Asked for goals for 2015, Fowler said; “I definitely want to win, play well through to the FedEx Cup and make the President’s Cup team.”
The world number 10 finished joint fifth or better at last year’s four majors, outscoring his friend McIlroy in the process.
But it was the Northern Irishman who won the British Open and U.S. PGA Championship while Fowler is still searching for a first tournament victory since 2012’s Wells Fargo Championship, his solitary U.S. tour triumph.
Fowler said he was confirmed in the field for May’s Irish Open at Royal County Down and would probably play in the Scottish Open in July, but he has no other plans to appear on the European circuit this year.
Editing by Ed Osmond