January 5, 2013 / 3:38 AM / 5 years ago

Fowler flies blind on yardage at windy Kapalua

(Reuters) - Yardage numbers were often meaningless for Rickie Fowler on a brutal Friday at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Hawaii where the first round was eventually abandoned because of severe gusting winds.

With golf umbrellas bending sharply in intermittent driving rain and balls being blown off line on the more exposed greens, Fowler realized he simply had to choose his shot and then try to pull it off.

“For the most part, I told my caddie I almost didn’t even need any (yardage) numbers today,” American Fowler told reporters after the opening round was scrapped because of winds gusting up to 45 mph.

”It’s more looking at the shot and seeing what the weather is, just grab a club and pick the flight and hit it. Numbers were kind of irrelevant at times.

“I had a ball that rolled up the hill on (hole) six with a gust; and that was a few holes back from when we finished. We didn’t say anything. We were just kind of toughing it out ... guinea pigs up front.”

Fowler and fellow American Jason Dufner had teed off as the first pairing of the day in the PGA Tour’s season-opening event at the Kapalua Resort.

They had completed only eight holes, with Fowler slipping to three over par and Dufner sitting at one over, when play was suspended.

Organizers later decided to wipe out the first round and send the players out on Saturday in a bid to complete 36 holes.

“After the strong winds that came through and the weather, I felt like it was a smart decision,” said Fowler, who booked his place in the elite, winners-only field of 30 with his maiden PGA Tour victory at last year’s Wells Fargo Championship.

“Obviously Webb (Simpson) is probably the only one that may be a little bummed,” he added, referring to U.S. Open champion who was three under for the round after seven holes. “He was out there playing well and had control of his golf ball.”

The killer blow for Fowler came when he double-bogeyed the eighth after dumping his tee shot into a hazard, and he was delighted when play was abandoned soon after.

“I‘m really glad that didn’t count because after hitting that and hearing the horn blow a minute later as I‘m walking off the tee made me a little upset,” he said.

”I felt like I was playing pretty well up until we had to hit in some crazy weather on eight and I ended up making double. Other than that, one over par, I felt like it was pretty good over seven holes.

“It was brutal out there. You definitely had to be hitting solid golf shots and picking the right times to hit.”

Friday’s decision by organizers to wipe out a round due to poor weather was the first on the PGA Tour since the second round of the 2005 Players Championship was declared “null and void”.

Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Greg Stutchbury

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