(Reuters) - Rickie Fowler shot a sparkling eight-under-par 63 to take a two-shot lead after the opening round of the Australian PGA Championship on Thursday, outshining local hero Adam Scott in his return Down Under.
Starting his round on the 10th, the flamboyant American reached the turn at the Gold Coast’s Royal Pines at two-under but caught fire on the back nine with six birdies to fend off a clutch of locals on six-under including Masters champion Scott.
“I’ll take eight-under every day,” the 24-year-old Californian told reporters.
“You never know what you’re going to get ... if I can get myself into a position where I have a chance come Sunday then that’s where I want to be.”
Making his first trip back home since becoming Australia’s first U.S. Masters winner, headline act Scott also carded a bogey-free round on a course criticized for being too undemanding for the game’s top professionals.
After a patient start, the world number two notched three straight birdies from the sixth and birdied the last to keep the heat on the tournament’s second major draw card Fowler.
Aiming to complete a career sweep of Australia’s marquee tournaments, having already won the country’s Open and Masters titles in years past, Scott has also turned his thoughts to the champions’ dinner at Augusta next year.
Tradition dictates that the reigning champion decides the menu and Scott forecast a distinctly Australian flavor to the dinner, nominating flathead lobster, known locally as ‘Moreton Bay bugs’ for their local habitat near Brisbane, as a likely dish.
“I‘m trying to make sure I serve something that everyone will eat. I don’t know that I can get away with serving meat pies, unfortunately,” added the Australian, referring to the country’s ubiquitous pastry-based parcels containing meat of sometimes dubious quality.
Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Patrick Johnston