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Rickie Fowler makes promising start as Justin Lower lead the way at Fortinet Championship | Golf News


Rickie Fowler shot a five-under 67 and produced a bogey-free round as he gets to grips with new clubs, a new caddie and coach; Justin Lower carded a career-low nine-under 63 to take a two-shot lead over the field

Last Updated: 16/09/22 7:27am


Rickie Fowler played a bogey-free round and is four-shots behind the leader Justin Lower

Justin Lower carded a nine-under 63 to take a two-shot lead over the field, with Rickie Fowler enjoying day one success at the Fortinet Championship before day one was suspended due to darkness.

Lower, beginning his second PGA Tour season, concluded his career-low, 63 in the early evening at Silverado Resort and Spa.

He held a two-shot cushion over defending champion Max Homa and a three-shot lead over Byeong Hun An, SH Kim and JJ Spaun at the fog-delayed season opener.

Fowler, at the start of his 15th professional season, commenced with many changes from clubs and coach to caddie.

His last victory was the 2019 Waste Management Phoenix Open and he commenced well, shooting a five-under 67 and being among nine players who finished their rounds four shots behind Lower.

Take a look back at the best of the action from day one of the Fortinet Championship

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Take a look back at the best of the action from day one of the Fortinet Championship

Take a look back at the best of the action from day one of the Fortinet Championship

Fowler, who had a bogey-free round, has only four top-10 finishes in the past three seasons. He recently began using a new putter and this week is also using a new set of irons.

Once ranked as high as No. 4 in the world, Fowler is now 176th. With all of the new elements to his game, Fowler hopes to rekindle his career.

On the bag is friend and veteran PGA Tour caddie Ricky Romano. Butch Harmon, who has worked with Fowler in the past, replaced John Tillery, who was Fowler’s swing coach for the past three years.

“Yeah, I always like it when there’s a bogey-free round in there,” Fowler said. “For the most part, there wasn’t an issue today other than having to make a 15-footer when I hit it into the bunker. Other than that, it was a fairly simple day.”

Fowler hadn’t played in the event since 2010 when it was played at CordeValle.

“Well, not going to the playoffs and not being on a Presidents Cup team, that’s been really the only reason I haven’t been to Napa yet,” Fowler said. “I’ve always heard good things about the event, so not to say thanks to bad play or anything, but that’s kind of the reason we’re able to be here this week.”

Overall, he was pleased with his day’s work, particularly off the tee.

“I set the round up by driving it fairly nicely, especially the second half of the day,” Fowler said. “And I was just able to keep moving forward. There weren’t many times where I had to play too defensively.”

Matt Kuchar, whose 2019 win at the Sony Open was the last of his nine PGA Tour titles, was among several players at four-under.

Justin Lower holds a two-shot lead over the field

Justin Lower holds a two-shot lead over the field

Lower, whose career-best finish in 28 PGA Tour starts dating to 2013 was a tie for eighth in July at the Barbasol Championship, had a bogey-free round.

“I’ll take it. I birdied half the holes, so that’s always a good start, I guess,” Lower said. “I’m honestly just happy to be in the position I am having I guess, full status.”

Homa, finishing just before play was called because of darkness, birdied two of the last three holes for his 65.

Greyson Sigg, Nick Taylor, Sahith Theegala, Scott Harrington, Matti Schmid, Emiliano Grillo, Sung Kang and Brice Garnett all matched Fowler’s 67. Grillo won the event in 2015 and had two runner-up finishes last season.

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