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'Overrated' Fowler opens with 3-under 69 at Players

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PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Days after an anonymous player poll labeled him overrated, Rickie Fowler responded by letting his clubs do the talking.

Fowler got off to a hot start at The Players Championship before carding a 3-under 69 to sit two shots behind Hideki Matsuyama.

It was a strong opener, but one that could have been even better. Fowler birdied six of his first 11 holes, including a 31-foot bomb on the par-3 17th, but he made double bogey on No. 3 and closed with a watery bogey on No. 9.

“Off to a good solid start and in a good position, but also not too satisfied because I kind of gave away quite a bit there,” Fowler said. “Could have been a really good round today.”

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Fowler’s record on the Stadium Course is a curious one: he was T-2 in 2012, but missed the cut in 2010, 2011 and 2013 and missed the 54-hole cut last year. His T-9 finish last week at the WGC-Cadillac Match Play Championship was his first top-10 result in nine starts this year.

Earlier this week, Sports Illustrated released the results of an anonymous player poll that tabbed Fowler and Ian Poulter as the most overrated players on the PGA Tour. While Fowler’s lone victory came at the 2012 Wells Fargo Championship, he remains unfazed by the poll findings after last year he became the third player in history to crack the top five in each major.

“I guess top-5s in four majors aren’t that good,” Fowler said wryly. “Like I said, I’ll take care of my business and I’ll be just fine.”