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Golf: Fowler lets fly with 63, Scott two behind at Australian PGA Championship

American Rickie Fowler shot an opening eight-under-par 63 to lead the Australian PGA Championship at the RACV Royal Pines Resort on the Gold Coast. Photo: OneAsia.

American Rickie Fowler shot an opening eight-under-par 63 to lead the Australian PGA Championship at the RACV Royal Pines Resort on the Gold Coast. Photo: OneAsia.

November 7, 2013: American Rickie Fowler made the most of perfect conditions to fire an eight-under-par 63 on Thursday and grab a two-shot lead after the opening round of the Australian PGA Championship, presented by Coca-Cola.

 

The flamboyant 24-year-old, one of the biggest draws in world golf despite just two professional wins, was bogey-free around the 7,378-yard RACV Royal Pines Resort course, establishing a new record after par was reduced to 71 for the A$1.25 million OneAsia tournament.

 

World No. 2 Adam Scott, playing his first tournament on home soil since winning the Masters in April, birdied the last for a 65 and share of second place with compatriots Matthew Ballard and David McKenzie.

 

Fowler has a soft spot for OneAsia having recorded his maiden professional victory at the 2011 Kolon Korea Open after a third-round 63 gave him a cushion to hold off a hard-charging Rory McIlroy. However, wins have been hard to come by since, although he feels right at home on Australia’s Gold Coast this week.

 

“Yeah, it was a good, solid start, if a little bit slow on my front nine,” said Fowler, who began on the 10th. “I ended up making two birdies and turning two under, but I just stayed patient and finally got a few things to go, made a couple of good up-and-downs. So, it was a good day.”

 

Asked if he could go even lower than 63, Fowler said he was happy with what he had, especially after chipping in for birdie from 30 yards on the last.

 

“I’ll take eight every day and I might have the trophy at the end of the tournament,” he said. “I don’t think anyone would touch that. If they do, then let me know who they are.”

 

Scott, 33, has declined lucrative appearance fees and PGA Tour purses to take his Green Jacket on a month-long tour of Australia – he will also play the Australian Masters, the World Cup of Golf and OneAsia’s Emirates Australian Open – and thousands turned out to watch him play on Thursday.

 

World No. 2 Adam Scott treated the large galleries to a driving masterclass as the Masters champion begun the first of four tournaments in Australia.

World No. 2 Adam Scott treated the large galleries to a driving masterclass as the Masters champion begun the first of four tournaments in Australia.

After a scrambling start, he treated the galleries to a driving masterclass that left even his playing partners shaking their heads at the gulf in class.

 

“My driving today was basically flawless. I haven’t driven it that well probably since The Open Championship,” he said.

 

“Today was a bit of a driving display. If I keep driving it like this, I really don’t need to play too aggressive because I think I can set myself up with good opportunities on the par-fives and take advantage of a couple of par-fours by just pitching into the green.”

 

Ballard and McKenzie both bogeyed their last, the ninth, but were delighted with their 65s.

 

McKenzie, who has missed just one cut on OneAsia all year, said: “I’d been playing around with my set-up the last couple of days. Today, after I had a stretch on the range, it just sort of clicked and it started coming off straight. I hope it keeps going straight all the time.”

 

Royal Pines was built as a resort course, but with the championship secured until 2017, tournament officials are toughening it up over the next few years by lengthening holes, reducing the size of several greens and narrowing the fairways. Ballard said the course changes suited his game.

 

“We play a lot of tournament here throughout the year and I can’t remember shooting six or seven-under, but today was a good day,” Ballard said. “Obviously it was off the new tees too, so it was a completely different course to what we play normally.”

 

European and PGA Tour winner Nathan Green was alone in in fifth place at five-under, while New Zealander Sven Puymbroeck, Australian Jason Norris and Kwon Seoung-yeol from Korea were a shot further back.

 

Kwon is fresh from a fourth place finish behind heavyweights Charl Schwartzel, Darren Clarke and Liang Wenchong at OneAsia’s Nanshan China Masters last month.

 

Australian PGA Championship,

63 – Rickie Fowler (USA)

65 – Matthew Ballard (AUS), David McKenzie (AUS), Adam Scott (AUS)

66 – Nathan Green (AUS)

67 – Jason Norris (AUS), Sung-yeol Kwon (KOR), Sven Puymbroeck (NZL)

68 – Richard T. Lee (CAN), Craig Hancock (AUS), Gareth Paddison (NZL), Aaron Pike (AUS), Steven Jeffress (AUS), Josh Geary (NZL), Jack Wilson (AUS), Ashley Hall (AUS), Stephen Leaney (AUS), Bradley Lamb (AUS)

69 – Michael Wright (AUS), Steven Jones (AUS), David Bransdon (AUS), Adam Bland (AUS), Marc Leishman (AUS), Michael Hendry (NZL), Nathan Holman (AUS), Ryan Yip (CAN), Cameron Percy (AUS), Matthew Guyatt (AUS), Rory Hie (INA), Cameron Smith (AUS), Matthew Griffin (AUS), Richard Green (AUS), Brody Ninyette (AUS), Jun Seok Lee (KOR)

70 – James McLean (AUS), Akinori Tani (JPN), Peter Cooke (AUS), Michael Sim (AUS), Peter O’Malley (AUS), Daniel Nisbet (AUS), Michael Long (AUS), Rika Batibasaga (AUS), Jason Scrivener (AUS), Leigh Deagan (AUS), Kalem Richardson (AUS)

71 – Ryan Fox (NZL), Shih-chang Chan (TPE), Nick Cullen (AUS), Peter Senior (AUS), Jamie Arnold (AUS), Grant Thomas (AUS), Lincoln Tighe (AUS), Eric Mina (USA), Garrett Sapp (USA), Matthew Millar (AUS)

72 – Michael Choi (AUS), Kim Felton (AUS), Hyo-won Park (KOR), Andrew Buckle (AUS), Peter Wilson (AUS), Steven Alker (NZL), Aron Price (AUS), Richard Gallichan (AUS), Clint Rice (AUS), Tze-huang Choo (SIN), Annop Tangkamolprasert (THA), Leigh McKechnie (AUS), Geon-ha Kim (KOR), Terry Pilkadaris (AUS), Scott Laycock (AUS), Kook-hyan Kim (KOR), Ryan Haller (AUS), Ji-man Kang (KOR), Kevin Conlong (AUS), David Klein (NZL), Scott Hend (AUS), Jin Jeong (KOR), Joon-woo Choi (KOR), Paul Spargo (AUS), Nick Gillespie (NZL)

73 – Aaron Townsend (AUS), Brad Shilton (NZL), Alistair Presnell (AUS), Peter Lonard (AUS), Rohan Blizard (AUS), Edward Stedman (AUS), Michael Moore (AUS), Kota Kagasaki (JPN), Anthony Brown (AUS), Anthony Summers (AUS), Brett Drewitt (AUS), Craig McLean (AUS), Mahal Pearce (NZL), Brendan Chant (AUS), Mathew Goggin (AUS), Mark Brown (NZL), Bradley Hughes (AUS), Christopher Wood (AUS), Paul Donahoo (AUS)

74 – Bum Geun Chae (KOR), Glenn Kelly (AUS), Wisut Artjanawat (THA), Il- hwan Park (KOR), Douglas Holloway (KOR), Kelly Kraft (USA), James Nitties (AUS), Josh Younger (AUS), Andre Stolz (AUS), Neven Basic (AUS)

75 – Wei-huang Wu (CHN), Varut Chomchalum (THA), Rhein Gibson (AUS), Sung-ho Lee (KOR), Matthew Giles (AUS), Jordan Sherratt (AUS), Daniel McGraw (AUS), Kang-chun Wu (CHN), George Gandranata (INA), Zhi Jun Ou (CHN), Andrew Tampion (AUS), Andrew Tschudin (AUS), Timothy Wood (AUS), Andrew Martin (AUS), Nick Flanagan (AUS), Daniel Fox (AUS), Brett Rankin (AUS), Brent McCullough (AUS), Craig Parry (AUS), Scott Strange (AUS), John Wade (AUS), Dae-jun Lee (KOR), Jun-sub Park (KOR)

76 – Marcus Cain (AUS), Pravee Visalkit (THA), Andrew Kelly (AUS), Kristopher Mueck (AUS), Shi Kim (KOR), Adam Crawford (AUS), Troy Cox (AUS), Ryan Haywood (AUS), Da Quan (CHN), Ryan Lynch (AUS), Alex Edge (AUS), Glenn Joyner (AUS)

77 – Dimitrios Papadatos (AUS), Young-kyu Kim (KOR), Jason King (AUS), Christopher Campbell (AUS)

78 – Darryl Purchase (AUS), Toby Wilcox (AUS), Brendan Smith (AUS)

79 – Rodger Davis (AUS)

80 – Peter Shaw (AUS)

81 – Sung-hyuk Park (KOR), Tom Bond (AUS)

Withdrew – Doo-kyun Won (Korea)

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