Rickie Fowler opens with 64 at Scottish Open, explains affinity for slower greens

GULLANE, SCOTLAND - JULY 12: Rickie Fowler of USA reacts to a birdie putt on hole four during day one of the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open at Gullane Golf Course on July 12, 2018 in Gullane, Scotland. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) Harry How/Getty Images

Rickie Fowler opens with 64 at Scottish Open, explains affinity for slower greens

Euro Tour

Rickie Fowler opens with 64 at Scottish Open, explains affinity for slower greens

GULLANE, Scotland – With an easy opening 64, Rickie Fowler returned to Gullane right where he left off in 2015: atop the leaderboard.

The Scottish Open winner here three years ago started with three birdies in his first four holes, then eagled the downhill 398-yard, par-4 sixth and only had one bogey on a relatively calm day.

So why the success at this historic East Lothian links? Fowler said Gullane fits his eye.

“You always have some sort of reference,” he said of the pot bunkering. “It’s not like you’re hitting over a hill and completely blind, not that I’m ever against that.”

While Gullane is playing firm and fast tee-to-fringe, the greens themselves are kept much slower than the typical European Tour course due to the possibility of high winds. Fowler enjoys the challenge of slower greens and even suggested they expose mis-hit putts more than fast surfaces.

“I think it’s kind of nice because (you) actually get to hit the putt, you’re not just trying to hit it to a spot and letting it work to the hole unless you have a downhill, downwind putt,” he said.

Fowler, who played North Berwick on Monday, enjoys the challenge of greens in nine to ten Stimpmeter-speed range. Especially when the wind blows.

“You have to use your imagination as far as creativity and trying to judge how much the wind will affect it,” he said. “At the end of the day, you just have to hit solid putts.”

While that may not sound very profound, Fowler’s case for slower greens rewarding better strokes and more refined putters would be valuable to note for courses chasing double-digit Stimpmeter speeds.

“Slower greens may accentuate a mis-hit putt more,” he said. “Whereas if you have a downhill putt in the States you kind of just have to hit it to get it going. Here, you mis-hit it a little bit uphill, into the wind and it can be a pretty big difference.”

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