GULLANE, Scotland—Rickie Fowler hasn't looked back since the U.S. Opens. Literally.
"I forgot about it till now," the American said with an earnest chuckle after opening the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open with a four-under-par 66. "There's nothing you can really do about it."
Returning to tournament golf for the first time since his U.S. Open 81-73, Fowler looked like the player who went into Chambers Bay a favorite. His four-under round at Gullane's composite course included birdies on three of the final four holes. Playing with Ian Poulter and Jamie Donaldson on a crisp, sunny day along "Scotland's Golf Coast," Fowler played at a brisk pace to Poulter's plodding style but seemed at ease on the historic links that is making its modern era tournament debut.
The round, coupled with Rory McIlroy's injury, should move Fowler high up the list of the British Open favorites next week at St. Andrews.
"It can only help if you have a good, solid tournament," Fowler said. "So to piece together some good rounds -- whether it's just one or two or a full tournament. If could just be one final round on a weekend putting together -- Tiger was able to play well at Greenbrier and kind of piece some things together for The Open. It can never hurt you to play well leading into a major."
Fowler, who is offered at a generous 30 to 1 with most of the UK bookmakers to win the British Open, is using the Scottish to prepare for the Old Course. With a caveat.
"This course is a little softer than I would say a typical links but I know St. Andrews has had some rain so it may not be as firm as usual. Just being on a links golf course hitting shots, off the tee visually, the golf course looks different than at home when maybe it's bunkered or tree-lined. Just getting acclimated and getting adjusted to a different time zone. That's probably one of the hardest things is adjusting quickly if you come over Sunday or Monday the week of."
One thing Fowler hasn't had to adjust to: a confidence blow from a disastrous U.S. Open. Must be nice.