Rickie Fowler opens new season with 5-under 67, just shy of top of leaderboard at Fortinet Championship

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NAPA, Calif. — Rickie FowlerOn Thursday, he began his 15th professional year. For the five-time PGA Tour winner, almost everything is new.

Fowlers last win was at the 2019 Waste Management Phoenix Open. He enjoyed immediate success.

He shot a 5-under-67 and was one of nine players who finished their rounds four shots behind the leader Justin LowerAt the Fortinet Championship.

Lower, who was just beginning his second PGA Tour campaign, finished his career-low of 9-under 63 at Silverado Resort and Spa in the early evening. He had a 2-shot advantage over the defending champion. Max HomaAnd a 3-shot advantage over Byeong Hun An, Seonghyeon KimAnd J.J. SpaunThe fog-delayed PGA Tour season opening.

Lowers career-best finish in 28 PGA Tour starts dating back to 2013 was a tie eighth in July at Barbasol Championship. He had a bogey free round.

Ill take that. Lower stated that he birdied half of the holes. Im really just happy to be where I am, I guess, full-status.

Homa, who finished just before play was stopped due to darkness, birdied the last two holes for his 65.

Fowler, who shot a bogey-free round in his first round, has finished in the top 10 only four times in the last three seasons. Fowler recently switched to a new putter, and this week he is also using a brand new set of irons.

Fowler was once ranked No. Fowler now ranks 176th. Fowler is aiming to rekindle the flame of his career by joining new clubs and working with a new coach and caddie.

Ricky Romano, a friend and veteran PGA Tour caddie, is on the bag. Fowlers swing coach during the last three years was John Tillery. Butch Harmon has replaced him.

Fowler said, Yeah. Its always nice when there are bogey-free rounds in there. For most of the day, there wasn’t any issue today except that I had to hit it into the bunker from a 15-footer. It was a very simple day.

An, a three-time PGA Tour runnerup, regained he card via the Korn Ferry Tour. He had seven birdsies and one bogey on his way to his 66.

Kim, a rookie PGA Tour player, had eight birdies as well as two bogeys during the opening round of the PGA Tour’s new season. It was its last time using a wraparound schedule.

Two groups were playing on the course Thursday morning, when play was stopped for 90 minutes due to fog. At 7:20 p.m. P.T., darkness had halted play and 35 players were left on the course. Among them, Robby SheltonThe best round was at 5 under through 13 holes. The second round was to be resumed Friday morning.

Fowler was not able to make the FedExCup playoffs his first time in 2021. He made it to the FedEx St. Jude Championship in August but didnt advance.

Fowler said, Ive had some great weeks in the last few years, but it shouldn’t be just a handful of weeks in those years. There needs to be more. Im trying to be more consistent.

Greyson Sigg, Nick Taylor, Sahith Theegala, Scott Harrington, Matti Schmid, Emiliano Grillo, Sung KangAnd Brice GarnettAll of them matched Fowler’s 67. Grillo won in 2015, and there were two runners-up finishes last year.

Fowler had not played in the event since 2010, when it took place at CordeValle.

Fowler stated that he has not been to Napa because of his inability to go to the playoffs or be on a Presidents Cup Team. Ive heard great things about the event so I dont blame bad play or anything but thats part of the reason we are able to be there this week.

Fowler was very pleased with his overall play and especially the way he played off the tee.

Fowler stated that he set up the round by driving it quite nicely, especially in the second half of the morning. And I was just moving forward. I didnt have to play defensively too many times.

Matt KucharAmong many players at 4 under was, whose 2019 win in the Sony Open was his last of nine PGA Tour titles.

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