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Fowler shoots 65 despite nagging back injury

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PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – While Rickie Fowler finds his name near the top of the leaderboard at the Honda Classic, the 24-year-old indicated after his first round that a back injury which plagued him much of last season is still a factor.

'It's definitely still there, and we're still working on it,' Fowler explained after opening with a 5-under 65 Thursday, putting him one shot behind overnight leader Camilo Villegas. 'That's my main goal going into the rest of the season, especially looking at The Masters. It'd be nice to be getting closer to playing pain-free by then.'

Although the injury remains an issue for which he continues to get treatment, Fowler noted that his opening round was relatively pain-free.

'It actually felt pretty good today. Probably the better you play, the better it feels,' he noted. 'I've been swinging really well, so it's kind of a bummer that it's still bugging me.'

While Fowler led the way for his threesome Thursday, his playing partners also played well, as Lee Westwood fired a 4-under 66 while Keegan Bradley opened with a 2-under 68. After the round, Fowler noted a trend that he hopes will bode well for him this weekend.

'In my two stroke-play events this year with a cut...played (first and second rounds) with Tiger in San Diego, he won; played with Phil in Phoenix, he won,' he added. 'Hopefully, it's maybe my turn.'