HUMBLE, Texas – Another year in Houston, another strong start for Rickie Fowler.
Fowler is one of three players ranked inside the top 10 in the world to tee it up this week at the Houston Open, and he backed up that standing with a 6-under 66 that left him one shot off the early lead. It’s a similar situation to a year ago, when Fowler opened with 64 en route to a T-3 finish at the Golf Club of Houston before contending at the Masters.
Fowler agreed with Jordan Spieth’s assertion that a single low round the week before a major can translate into some much-needed momentum, and he’s glad to have put his up on the board early in the proceedings.
“Prefer it to be Thursday or Friday, that way you’re not trying to play from behind the 8-ball. Be in a good position where you have a good chance of being in contention, kind of get the blood flowing,” Fowler said. “If you can do that, then that gap or little break from Sunday when you finish playing to the time you tee it up on Thursday, it’s not very long.”
Fowler got things going with a 10-foot birdie on his first hole of the day, and he put seven total birdies on the board after overnight rain led to lift, clean and place conditions. Given ball in hand, Fowler took dead aim and finally got his putter on track by rolling in nearly 169 feet worth of putts – more than 50 feet better than his previous best total this season.
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“I made a good par putt on my fifth hole to kind of keep the round going, then made two long ones after that,” Fowler said. “It was a good day on the greens. Nice to have the putter coming around because it was something that was great last year. I feel like it’s always been one of my strongest parts when it gets going.”
After skipping the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Fowler opted out of his usual scouting trip to Augusta National in advance of the Masters. Instead he set up shop at Lochinvar Golf Club in Houston with coach Butch Harmon, playing more than 54 holes in two days while fine-tuning his swing.
After the opening round, it appears he made the right scheduling decision.
“It’s always nice getting off to a good start after coming off a week off, getting some good work in with Butch the first few days this week,” he said. “Could have had a couple more, but definitely pleased with the start.”