The Masters
April 07, 2016

Rickie Fowler sounded shell-shocked following first round at the Masters

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- "Golf happened."

Yes, it very much did Thursday at Augusta National Golf Club, and that was the best explanation Rickie Fowler could manage in trying to explain his opening, hope-ending 8-over-par 80 in an accidental nod to commemorating the 80th Masters Tournament. The skittish effort on a blustery day was his worst by four shots and put him in danger of missing his first cut in six Masters starts.

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AP

Rated among the favorites heading into the year's first major, Fowler, 27, posted his third round of 80 or higher in a major championship, following a first-round 81 in last year's U.S. Open at Chambers Bay and a second-round 80 in the 2012 PGA Championship at the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, S.C. Fowler has not had a top-10 finish in a major since 2014, when he finished in the top five in all four.

"Golf's not an easy game," said Fowler, who still looked shell-shocked afterward.

"It is a fine line, especially at this place," he added. "You see Jordan [Spieth] out there, I think he's at five or so [under] right now. I go play a decent back nine and I'm 3‑under par. It can go either way and it can definitely go the other way, the high number way, a lot easier than it can the low."

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AFP/Getty Images

The No. 5 player in the world, Fowler looked like he was on his way to a decent day despite a double-bogey on the opening hole. He birdied Nos. 2, 3 and 5, the latter with an approach to four feet after the ball nearly landed in the hole on the fly. He bogeyed the seventh, and then a bogey at the 10th from the bunker kicked off his struggle to an inward 44 that included a triple-bogey at the par-5 13th and a double-bogey at the 16th after pulling a 7-iron into the pond.

His bogey at the last was icing on a poorly-baked cake.

Asked how disappointed he was, Fowler needed just one word before heading straight to the practice range.

"Very."

That can happen when golf happens.