Fowler (67) flawless, two back at Scottish Open


Updated at 1:30 p.m. ET:

Returning two years after his Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open victory at Gullane, Rickie Fowler picked up right where he left off.

Fowler barely broke a sweat during an opening-round 67, making his way around Dundonald without dropping a shot to share the early lead at 5 under alongside Ian Poulter, Andrew Dodt and Callum Shinkwin. Mikko Illonen finished the day in front with a 7-under 65.

Fowler started on the back nine and reached red figures with birdies on Nos. 13 and 14. He added three more in a row on Nos. 3-5, a stretch he surrounded with pars as he again showed how his game can often thrive in a links setting.

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"I just love hitting the shots and kind of picking my way around the golf course," Fowler said. "You don't exactly have to be swinging perfect to play well around links. I mean, it does help if you are swinging well, but you can manufacture shots and just work your way around, kind of pick your way around the golf course and hit it to certain spots. The biggest thing being avoiding the bunkers, because it's a lot more of a penalty over here."

Fowler managed to avoid nearly all of the trouble offered in the opening round, and it continues the high level of form with which he has competed for much of the year. Highlighted by a win at the Honda Classic in February, Fowler has finished T-16 or better in nine of his last 11 starts including near-misses at both the Masters and U.S. Open. With a trip to Royal Birkdale looming, he's not exactly lacking confidence as he looks to improve upon his runner-up finish three years ago at Royal Liverpool.

"It's definitely around its highest (level)," Fowler said. "Right now, with how consistent it's been, to have been in contention and have a chance on a Sunday in both majors, with a win and some good finishes outside of that, it's been a fun year. So I'm looking forward to this big stretch through the summer."