PGA Tour

Fowler shares Phoenix Open lead

Rickie Fowler (Supplied)
Rickie Fowler (Supplied)

Los Angeles - World number four 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 a fortnight 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.

Lowry admitted he found the par-three 16th, where thousands of raucous fans ring the green in a scene more like a football game than golf tournament, "very intimidating".

"I was just praying I was going to hit the green. My ball managed to just stay on the green and I rolled it in," he said. "It was pretty exciting."

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," he said. "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 leader board.

"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.

Matsuyama has a solid history in Phoenix, where he has tied for second and tied for fourth in two prior appearances.

"I wish I knew (why), but I really enjoy playing here," he said.

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.

Leading first-round scores on Thursday in the $6.5 million US PGA Tour Phoenix Open (Round halted by darkness, to resume Friday. USA unless noted, par-71):

65 - Rickie Fowler, Shane Lowry (IRL), Hideki Matsuyama (JPN)

66 - Anirban Lahiri (IND)

67 - Danny Lee (NZL), James Hahn, Greg Owen (ENG), Brooks Koepka, Brandt Snedeker

68 - Tyrone Van Aswegen (RSA), Blayne Barber, Daniel Berger, Ryan Moore, Webb Simpson, Keegan Bradley, Ben Crane, Harris English, Will Wilcox, Daniel Summerhays, Kevin Na, Chad Campbell, Bo Van Pelt, Kevin Chappell, Brett Stegmaier, Aaron Baddeley (AUS)

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