World No. 4 Rickie Fowler bounced back from his missed cut at Torrey Pines, firing a six-under 65 on Thursday to share the Phoenix Open first-round lead with Hideki Matsuyama and Shane Lowry.
“I made some great swings, made a lot of good putts — it was nice to see the ball go in the hole after last week,” Fowler said after a round that included birdies at three of his first four holes at TPC Scottsdale, where he teed off on 10.
Fowler added an eagle at the par-five 15th — where he drained a 27-footer — and sandwiched a birdie between two bogeys before picking up two more strokes coming in.
He capped his round with a birdie at the ninth, despite finding a fairway bunker.
“It’s not one that you try and pull off a lot,” he said of going for the green from the trap. “I knew I could hit it, but I had to hit it perfect.”
Fowler, who moved to fourth in the world with his victory at Abu Dhabi two weeks ago, said he enjoys the rowdy atmosphere of the tournament — a change from the more traditional tone.
“I love this week. It’s a lot of good energy,” he said.
Lowry also teed off on 10 and birdied five of his first nine, including a run of three straight birdies at 16, 17 and 18.
He was rolling after back-to-back birdies at three and four, before bogeys at five and six.
“Obviously I started the round beautifully — made a few birdies, holed a couple of long putts,” Ireland’s Lowry said. “Bit of a slip-up on my back nine. I got to seven-under and became a little tentative. That’s something I need to work on.”
He rebounded with a 26-foot birdie at the seventh to join Fowler atop the leaderboard.
“After making two bogeys in a row I was just hitting it to the middle of the green and trying to roll it down,” Lowry said, but he knew when he struck the putt it had a chance.
Japan’s Matsuyama, who also teed off on 10, had five birdies in his first nine holes, including three in a row from the 15th through the 17th.
Matsuyma was in one of the last groups to finish before darkness halted play — the hangover of frost delay to the start of the round.
Anirban Lahiri of India was in the clubhouse on 66, while Bryce Molder was also five-under through 16 holes when play was halted.
New Zealand’s Danny Lee, England’s Greg Owen, James Hahn, Brooks Koepka and Brandt Snedeker — fresh off a victory at Torrey Pines — were tied on 67.
Five-time major champion Phil Mickelson carded an eventful 69 that included four birdies, an eagle and a triple-bogey seven at the par-four fifth that followed on the heels of a bogey at the fourth.
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