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Fowler Fires But Has Lyle On His Mind

Rickie Fowler wore a Leuk the Duck pin on the front of his cap in honour of Jarrod Lyle.
Patience is often referred to as the most important club in the bag for the pros but at the 100th PGA Championship Rickie Fowler showed the key might actually be perspective.

Fowler produced the best major championship opening round of his career at Bellerieve Country Club in Missouri but it was his dress, not his golf, that grabbed the post-round attention.

Holding the lead after an early tee time, Fowler fronted the press to discuss his six birdie-one bogey 65 but the first question had nothing to do with putts holed or fairways missed.

Instead, the press wanted to know why the 29-year-old wasn’t wearing a blue shirt, as per his apparel sponsor’s ‘script’, and instead was in yellow.

It turns out the late change was not an act of rebellion but a mark of respect, a simple message of support for a friend lost too soon.

Fowler, like many in the field this week in St. Louis, knew Jarrod Lyle well enough to be affected by his passing. Well enough to want to make a public statement about the Australian and his battle with cancer.

“Really the last few weeks, especially last week and this week, we've all been thinking about Jarrod a lot,” he said.

“So I was scripted to wear dark blue today. That definitely immediately changed last night.”

Fowler instead switched to yellow, the colour made famous by Lyle as he represented the charity organisation Challenge on the world’s fairways.

“Last week I had the (Leuk the Duck) pin somewhere on the side” he said pointing to the pin. “This is front and centre."

“It's been a tough few weeks, especially talking with guys that were also close with Jarrod.”

Fowler was among that group, revealing he had spoken to Lyle late last week and took heart from that conversation.

“I was lucky enough to be able to talk to him last Friday, so one thing that did help is hearing kind of from him how he felt,” Fowler said. “He sounded like he was in a good spot.

“You know, it's definitely tough, especially talking with some of the guys that knew Jarrod better than most out here.

“Guys like Scotty and Leish and a lot of the Aussies, obviously. You also think about it as far as Jarrod wouldn't want us out here feeling sorry for him or feeling bad or anything.

“He'd probably come out here and kick us in the butt.

“So it's a little bit kind of bittersweet. You're trying to go out there and keep living life like he did, but it's unfortunate that he's not here with us.”

Teeing off in just the fifth group of the day Fowler made the most of good early conditions and by day’s end several players had challenged though none surpassed his 65.

For much of the afternoon it looked like the 5-under number would hold but Gary Woodland leapfrogged his fellow American with a blistering back nine.

A fifth birdie of the inward half at the 17th saw him take the lead outright, his lone blemish coming at his first hole of the day.

A par at the last was good enough to sign for 6-under and take a one-shot advantage into Friday, Fowler alone in second with Brandon Stone and Zach Johnson T3 at 4-under.

A logjam of players sits at 3-under, former World Number One ranked players Jason Day and Dustin Johnson part of that group.

Open champion Francesco Molinari is among the players at 2-under alongside Hideki Matsuyama, Players Champion Webb Simpson and Spaniard Jon Rahm.

There were 46 players under par by the end of the day including defending champion  Justin Thomas while playing partners Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy both opened with even par scores.

Woods will be relatively pleased with his effort after fighting back from 3-over through two holes while McIlroy will feel it was opportunity lost with two birdies offset by two bogeys.

Jordan Spieth continues to struggle with his game and signed for a 1-over 71 including a double bogey at his opening hole.

RICKIE FOWELR: FIRST ROUND RECAP AT THE 2018 PGA

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