Golf: Rising young American challenges Scott

American young gun Rickie Fowler looks Adam Scott's main competitor after a blistering first round at the Australian PGA Championship on the Gold Coast.

The 24-year-old rising star, who admits to aspirations of one day emulating Masters champion Scott's transformation from prospect to contender, begun his Downunder visit with an eight-under 63 in perfect conditions at Royal Pines yesterday.

He goes into today's second round with a two shot advantage ahead of Scott and Australian journeymen Matthew Ballard and David McKenzie, who all shot 65s.

Scott, making his first outing in Australia since his historic win at Augusta National in April, birdied the last to move into a three-way tie for second with Ballard and McKenzie on six-under.

Fowler, playing in the morning session, caught fire on his back nine with six birdies including a chip-in on the last to lay down an early marker in his second Australian PGA Championship.

Fowler's bogey-free round featured eight birdies and couldn't be matched by the rest of the field, not even world No 2 Scott.

The 33-year-old started steadily before making three birdies in a row at the sixth, seventh and eighth to begin his charge.

A putt for eagle on the 12th just stopped short of the hole while a birdie attempt on the 16th slid narrowly to the left.

In the end Scott finished with six birdies and bogey-free for the day.

Fowler, a Californian motorsports enthusiast best known for his gaudy, day-glo clothing and backward baseball caps, says Scott's rise is exactly the direction he wants to take with his game.

His breakthrough win at the Wells Fargo Championship on the 2012 US PGA Tour remains the highlight of Fowler's young career but it's at the majors where he's aiming for more success.

"That's something I'd like to work on, to get more consistent," Fowler said.

"That's been a challenge of mine that I've worked on in the last few years, ever since I turned pro.

"Definitely a goal of mine going forward is trying to take my game to the next level and be as consistent as I can be to get myself ready to go and contend at majors and be in the position that Adam Scott's been in the last year.

"This would be a great start here to get things going in the right direction."

As the tournament's big two made strong starts, it was Gold Coaster Ballard and Victorian veteran McKenzie who were the surprises of the day. Both men bogeyed the final hole of their opening rounds to end six-under but will enjoy sitting among the top two-ranked players in the tournament.


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