American young gun Rickie Fowler sets sizzling pace in Australian PGA
Gold Coast: American young gun Rickie Fowler fired an eight-under-par 63 to lead the OneAsia-sanctioned Australian PGA Championship by two shots from Adam Scott after the opening round on the Gold Coast on Thursday.
The 24-year-old rising star holed eight birdies in an unblemished round to lead US Masters champion Scott and local journeymen Matthew Ballard and David McKenzie, who carded 65s at Royal Pines.
Fowler, playing in the benign morning conditions, had six birdies on his back nine holes, including a chip-in on the last, to lay down an early marker in his second Australian PGA Championship.
His bogey-free round could not be matched by the rest of the field, not even world number two Scott.
Californian Fowler, best known for his gaudy, day-glo clothing and backward baseball caps, said Scott`s rise was the direction he wanted to take with his game.
His breakthrough win at the Wells Fargo Championship on the 2012 US PGA Tour remains the highlight of his young career, but it is at the majors where Fowler is aiming for more success.
"That`s something I`d like to work on, to get more consistent," Fowler said. "That`s been a challenge of mine that I`ve worked on in the last few years, ever since I turned pro.
"Definitely a goal of mine going forward is trying to take my game to the next level and be as consistent as I can be to get myself ready to go and contend at majors and be in the position that Adam Scott`s been in the last year.
"This would be a great start here to get things going in the right direction."
Scott, making his first outing in Australia since his historic win at Augusta National in April, birdied the last to move into a three-way tie for second on six-under.
The 33-year-old Scott began steadily before making three birdies in a row at the sixth, seventh and eighth to begin his charge.
A putt for eagle on the 12th just stopped short of the hole, while a birdie attempt on the 16th slid narrowly to the left.
Scott finished with six birdies and bogey-free for the day.
"A little shaky start, scrambling, that settled me down into competition mode," Scott said.
"Pleased to get that out of the way and put a good one on the board. Setting myself up for hopefully what`s a good weekend."
Scott said dealing with adulation and accolades as the first Australian to win the Augusta Masters was something he has had to learn to cope with.
"I`ve enjoyed every minute of it and I`ve enjoyed playing at home," he said. "It was fun today.
"No matter how little pressure I put on myself I still want to play well and especially in front of a lot of friends and family out there and everyone who`s come out to watch."
Current US PGA Tour player Marc Leishman made a low-key start to the tournament and was back in a tie for 19th after a two-under 69 opening round.