Fired-up Fowler on birdie spree after missed cut

Rickie Fowler hitting out of the bunker on the 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale. He had the first of two bogeys here but enjoyed a great day with six birdies and an eagle - at the 15th hole.
Rickie Fowler hitting out of the bunker on the 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale. He had the first of two bogeys here but enjoyed a great day with six birdies and an eagle - at the 15th hole.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LOS ANGELES • World No. 4 Rickie Fowler bounced back from his missed cut at Torrey Pines, firing a six-under 65 on Thursday to share the Phoenix Open first-round lead with Hideki Matsuyama and Shane Lowry.

"I made some great swings, made a lot of good putts - it was nice to see the ball go in the hole after last week," the American said after a round that included birdies at three of his first four holes at TPC Scottsdale, where he teed off at No. 10.

He added an eagle at the par-five 15th - where he drained a 27-footer - and sandwiched a birdie between two bogeys before picking up two more strokes coming in. He capped his round with a birdie at the ninth, despite finding a fairway bunker.

"It's not one that you try and pull off a lot," he said of going for the green from the trap. "I knew I could hit it, but I had to hit it perfect."

Fowler, who moved to fourth in the world rankings with his victory at Abu Dhabi a fortnight ago, said he enjoys the rowdy atmosphere of the tournament - a change from the more traditional tone.

Lowry also teed off on the 10th hole and birdied five of his first nine, including a run of three straight birdies at Nos. 16, 17 and 18. He admitted he found the par-three 16th, where thousands of raucous fans ring the green in a scene more like a football game than a golf tournament, "very intimidating".

"I was just praying I was going to hit the green. My ball managed to just stay on the green and I rolled it in," he said. "It was pretty exciting."

He was on an upswing after back-to-back birdies at three and four before bogeys at five and six.

The Irishman rebounded with a 26-foot birdie at the seventh to join Fowler atop the leader board.

Japan's Matsuyama, who also teed off on No. 10, had five birdies in his first nine holes, including three in a row from the 15th.

Anirban Lahiri of India was in the clubhouse on 66, while Bryce Molder was also five-under through 16 holes when play was halted.

New Zealand's Danny Lee, England's Greg Owen and Americans James Hahn, Brooks Koepka and Brandt Snedeker - fresh off his Torrey Pines win - were tied on 67.

Five-time Major champion Phil Mickelson carded an eventful 69 that included four birdies, an eagle and a triple-bogey seven at the par-four fifth that followed on the heels of a bogey at the fourth.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 06, 2016, with the headline 'Fired-up Fowler on birdie spree after missed cut'. Print Edition | Subscribe