BENTON HARBOR, Mich. (Aug. 1, 2007)-- Rickie Fowler, 2005 Western Junior champion, shot a 5-under-par 65 in his first competitive round at Point O’Woods Golf & Country Club on Wednesday to share the first-round clubhouse lead following the morning rounds in the 2007 Western Amateur with Alex Prugh, a first-team All-Pac 10 selection as a senior this year at the University of Washington.
“I just tried to play smart. Play it safe and keep it in the short grass,” said Fowler, 18, of Murrietta, Calif., who will be joining the Oklahoma State University golf team as a freshman this fall.
Fowler wasted little time attacking the Point’s rugged layout, sinking a 10-foot birdie putt on the first hole. He followed with five more birdies and just one bogey. For Fowler, the quick start mirrored the success he’s been enjoying this year, posting wins in the Sunnehanna Amateur and the Players Amateur.
“I’m a rookie to the amateur (events),” said Fowler. “I started with the U.S. Amateur last year, and I’ve played eight events now. The two wins definitely give me confidence knowing I can hang with the top guys on the amateur circuit. It helps.”
It also helped to play with Colt Knost, 22, Dallas, Texas, who shot a 3-under-par 67. The two have been paired together several times this summer.
“We just played two rounds together last week,” said Knost, a 2007 graduate of Southern Methodist University and winner of the 2007 U.S. Public Links in July. “We’ve become friends and definitely push each other. Playing with good friends, you stay relaxed and have fun.”
Prugh, 22, of Spokane, Washington, came off a two-week layoff to post his 65 on Wednesday.
“I needed some time to work on my swing and putting,” said Prugh, who won the 2007 Oregon Duck Invitational and 2005 Pacific Coast Amateur. “I’ve taken my swing in some different directions, and I’ve been working on my putting stroke.”
Like Fowler, Prugh had six birdies and just one bogey.
“I never got in trouble today,” he said. “I hit a lot of greens and gave myself opportunities to make birdies.”
One opportunity made good came on the par-4, fifth hole, when Prugh, competing in his second Western Amateur, snaked in a 40-foot, double-breaking putt for birdie.
Just one shot back at 66 was Dustin Johnson, a two-time NCAA All-American out of Coastal Carolina and winner of the 2007 Monroe Invitational and Northeast Amateur. Johnson carded seven birdies and three bogeys for back-to-back nines of 33.