Saturday 16 December 2017

Rickie Fowlers leads from strong home challenge at Australian PGA Championship

Rickie Fowler
Rickie Fowler

Masters champion Adam Scott was part of a three-man Australian challenge two shots adrift of leader Rickie Fowler after the first round of the Australian PGA Championship at Royal Pines on the Gold Coast.

Scott, Matthew Ballard and David McKenzie all carded six-under-par 65s on Thursday to stay in the hunt behind Fowler, who registered an impressive eight-under 63.

"Rickie has put himself in a great position to have a run at this tournament," Scott said on "He's a world-class player."

And the Queenslander was not badly placed himself after producing a faultless opening round that featured six birdies, including three in a row from the sixth, despite having felt the pressure in front of his home fans.

"I was pretty nervous on the first tee actually. I haven't been that nervous on the first tee for a while," the 33-year-old added.

"My driving today was basically flawless. Today was a bit of a driving display.

"I think I was ready for today.

"It was tricky out there. It wasn't the most exciting round to watch. I was just plugging away."

Ballard and McKenzie enjoyed similar success as they reeled off seven birdies, but they were both undone with bogeys at the ninth.

The day belonged to Fowler, however.

One of only four Americans contesting the tournament, Fowler made an early statement with his blistering first round.

The 24-year-old did not put a foot wrong all day on his way to eight birdies - six of which came during a dominant front-nine performance.

A shot further back from the chasing trio was another Australian, Nathan Green, who was outright fifth on five under.

His compatriot Jason Norris was tied with South Korea's Sung-yeol Kwon in sixth spot on four under while another 11 players shared eighth position on three under.

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