Rickie Fowler gets himself into contention at a major championship again, shooting a 5-under 65 in the first round of the PGA Championship on Thursday to trail Gary Woodland by a shot.
Rickie Fowler, tired of constantly coming up empty at major championships, is once again in position to change that history after a solid first round at the PGA Championship on Thursday.
Fowler’s 5-under 65 trails leader Gary Woodland by one stroke after the opening round at Bellerive Country Club, just outside of St. Louis.
Beginning on the back nine, he started with an early birdie at the 14th before making bogey on the par-3 16th after hitting into a greenside bunker.
That would be Fowler’s only dropped shot of the day. He rebounded with a birdie on the next hole and narrowly missed another chance for birdie on the 18th. Fowler took that momentum into the his second nine, making four birdies, including a 31-foot putt at the 7th.
Fowler said after the round that birdie on the 17th served as a catalyst for the rest of his round. He knows, though, there is still a long way to go before he can think about winning the tournament.
"I had enough looks to know that I can, kind of, make up for that bogey that we did make on 16. It was nice to play a solid, kind of clean, stress-free front nine.Thursday you can’t go win the golf tournament. You can definitely take yourself out of it and lose it. We took care of what we needed to take care of today. We move on to Friday, and go do what we need to do tomorrow."
Fowler held the lead most of the day before being caught and then passd by Woodland. It wasn’t a great start for the 31-year-old pro. He bogeyed the 1st hole and was still 1-over through seven. Like Fowler he built momentum making the turn with two straight birdies.
On the back nine, Woodland closed with five birdies, holing a 44-foot putt on the 11th and two 23-footers at 12 and 16. Another birdie putt at 18 to tie the PGA Championship record with a round of 63 came up just short.
Woodland hails from Topeka, Kan., 300 miles west of St. Louis, and admits having a huge contingent of people who came in to watch him may have contributed to his slow start.
"I’m close to home. I have a million friends and family out here, which is pretty cool. So I was probably off pressing a little bit."
South African Brandon Stone and two-time major champion Zach Johnson are at 4-under, two off the lead. A large group at 3-under includes 2015 PGA champion Jason Day, World No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Justin Rose.
Fowler and Woodland have had two opposite careers in major championships. Fowler, on one hand, is a three-time runner-up who has finished inside the top five eight times.
Woodland, meanwhile, has never been inside the top 10 in a major. Both, however, share one thing: they have never lifted the trophy on Sunday.
There is still plenty of golf to play, but Fowler knows as much as anybody how keeping yourself in contention is key to finally getting that breakthrough.
"Keep putting ourselves in position. Get in contention. We’ve had plenty of runner-ups. Jack (Nicklaus) had a lot of runner-ups. We’ll just keep beating down that door."
Woodland tees off with the lead for the second round at 8:01 a.m. local time (9:01 EST) on Friday. Fowler goes off at 1:04 p.m. (2:04 EST).