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Rickie Fowler was going along just fine on Thursday before he reached the par-5 18th at Royal Liverpool.

The recent Rocket Mortgage Classic winner is playing the golf of his life and his two-under-par total through 17 holes at the Open on what seems to be a deceptively tough Hoylake layout was further evidence of his resurgence.

Cross-winds have been causing the field big problems and Fowler, so adept in links conditions, was putting together a solid opening round boosted by birdies on the par-5 15th and controversial par-3 17th.

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But whilst sitting comfortably at T5 on the leaderboard going up the last, disaster struck.

Fowler’s drive on the 609-yard hole wasn’t the problem – he found the fairway and was left with 289 yards to the hole, opting to chase up a driving iron.

Then he discovered the horrors of the internal out of bounds that is situated just a few yards off the fairway right.

The Californian let his first approach go straight into the out of bounds, costing him a shot penalty.

Surely Fowler couldn’t make the same mistake again when he reloaded? Wrong. He went out of bounds right again and was suddenly racking up a huge number.

The final score was a triple bogey eight, sending him from a tidy position near the summit of the leaderboard right back into the pack. A bitter way to end such a promising round.

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Fowler was not the only one to be bitten at Hoylake. Tony Finau faced the full force of one of the 81 bunkers on the course by the green on the par-5 fifth.

With his ball tight up against the face of the lip, Fowler’s future Ryder Cup teammate was forced to play backwards away from the green back into the bunker. The result was a bogey six.

Elsewhere, local hero Tommy Fleetwood and gigantic South African amateur Christo Lamprecht posted the best morning scores.

The duo shared the clubhouse lead at five-under par after superb rounds of 66, while Matthew Jordan, a member on this course, started well on two-under.

A word of warning to the later finishers walking up 18 here this evening: Don’t do a Rickie Fowler.


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Ben Parsons joined bunkered as a Content Producer in 2023 and is the man to come to for all of the latest news, across both the professional and amateur games. Formerly of The Mirror and Press Association, he is a member at Halifax Golf Club and is a long-suffering fan of both Manchester United and the Wales rugby team.

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