Walker, Fowler buoyed by strong starts at Baltusrol


Jimmy Walker was understandably buoyant after claiming the early clubhouse lead on day one of the US PGA Championship.

World number 48 Walker has endured a below-par season on the PGA Tour, but proved the pick of the morning starters at Baltusrol on Thursday.

A five-under 65 featuring six birdies put the 37-year-old one clear of Emiliano Grillo and Ross Fisher in the year's final major.

"The last weekend [when he finished tied-14th at the Canadian Open] and today, I felt like I was gaining some momentum and starting to see some go in. So it was nice to keep that rolling today. It felt good," said Walker.

"I got some putts to go in, hit some quality second shots into greens, and had not been making a lot of putts this year.

"I felt like all year, it's just been real stale and stagnant. It's just the ebbs and flows of golf. I just haven't been scoring, haven't been making the 10 under to 15 under, 18-footers you need to make to start running up the leaderboard and to have high finishes.

"Just a lot of even par to a couple-under golf, and it's equated to a bunch of 20th-place finishes this year. Definitely different than the last couple [of seasons]."

Rickie Fowler also got off to a strong start on Thursday with a two-under 68.

Like Walker, Fowler has struggled in the majors this year, following missed cuts at the Masters and U.S. Open with a tied-46th finish at The Open a fortnight ago.

"I'm definitely happy with today's round," he said. "I mean, anything in red numbers is always nice to start off a major. It was great scoring conditions this morning. If you drove the ball well, you were able to play aggressive at times. It was nice."

The last four majors have been won by first-time winners - Jason Day, Danny Willett, Dustin Johnson and Henrik Stenson - and Fowler realises his time could be next.

"I've got a chance," he said. "Obviously those guys played well to do what they did. Everyone that's in the field is obviously teeing it up to go win. I'm here for the same reason.

"I like my chances. I've been swinging well and heading in the right direction. Nice to get off to a solid start here. Anything can happen this week."