Gow, a 30-year-old native of Sydney, was not even going to defend at this week's event. Spending most of his time last season in the Buy.Com ranks, he qualified for the 2001 PGA Tour, courtesey of a win at the Hershey Open and eight other top-10 finishes. Now, he's playing for the huge money of America.
Yet, after missing the cut at the Sony Open in Hawaii last week, he decided to skip the big event in Phoenix and return for a defense in his homeland.
Ten birdies and an eagle later, you can bet he is glad of his decision.
'When I woke up I knew something was going to happen,' he said. 'I didn't know I was going to shoot 12-under. I would have been happy with three or four-under.'
Gow now leads the $550,000 Canon by five over Stephen Leaney, who went around in 7-under 65. Thomas Gogele and Kenny Druce head up a list of four other golfers at 6-under, while American David Gossett shot a 5-under-par 67.
Paul Gow is quietly emerging as one of the finest players from the Land Down Under. He broke out last year at the Canon, and went on to record the finest season of his career.
And Thursday, he needed only 24 putts in his record-setting round. He also hit 17 of 18 greens in regulation.
'I hardly missed a shot all day,' he said. 'I hit a bunch of good shots. I really didn't hole everything I looked at. The greens are really receptive and I had the best conditions.'
For all the putts that did roll in, Gow nearly had another one for birdie on the last, when his 20-foot effort came up just a bit short.
'I was all ready to go and a guy's mobile phone went off, but that's no excuse,' he said of the putt.
No excuse indeed. And commented an impressed Leaney of his countryman's round: 'I could do nothing but watch and clap.'
Added another young gun from Australia, Aaron Baddeley: 'It's one of the most impressive rounds I've ever seen.'
Gow heads into Day 2 with a great opportunity for defense. He has already nearly lapped the rest of the field. Three more decent rounds and it should be his for the taking.
Click here for Full-Field scores from the Canon Challenge!