Fresh from finishing tied fifth at the Masters and runner-up at last month's US Open, Rickie Fowler has given himself an opportunity to go from major contender to winner after opening his Open Championship campaign with a three-under 69.
The 25-year-old Californian is enjoying some of the best form of his fledgling career and has been tipped by many – including some of the bunkered team – to do well this week.
The good for them is that Fowler himself feels ready to enter the realm of major champions at Royal Liverpool this week, particularly after his impressive tie for eighth at Royal Aberdeen last week.
“Augusta this year is definitely the most comfortable I’ve felt in a major,” he said. “It was the same at the US Open. To come here playing well last week, it definitely got the heart pumping a little bit on the first tee.”
"I’m not a stranger to playing in cold, windy weather." - Rickie Fowler
This is just Fowler’s fourth Open Championship but he has already earned a reputation as a formidable links golfer, stretching back to his stand-out performance in the 2007 Walker Cup at Royal County Down. On that basis, it should come as no surprise whatsoever to find him at the business end of the leaderboard, even at this early stage.
“I’m definitely off to a good start,” he acknowledged. “I’m happy with the round. Made a lot of good swings out there. Just didn’t finish as strong as I’d like to but it’s a good, solid start at a major.”
With the wind forecast to pick up overnight in time for the players teeing off in their second rounds, you could forgive the players for being somewhat apprehensive going into day two. Fowler, though, insists blustery conditions don’t faze him.
“Back when I grew up in Southern California, it usually blew about 15 to 20 every afternoon,” he said. “I played a lot in the wind growing up. And then at school in Oklahoma, there were a lot of days when it blew more than 20. So, I’ve seen a lot of different conditions. I’m not a stranger to playing in cold, windy weather. Whatever we get over here, we’re ready.”
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