Rickie Fowler continued his fine 2014 major form with a solid opening 69 in the USPGA Championship at Valhalla

By Robin Barwick

Halfway through the first round of the 2014 USPGA Championship today, the leaderboard did not look very appealing to the host nation. Apart from Kevin Chappell’s rise to the top, at six under par, alongside England’s Lee Westwood, and before Jim Furyk went on a late birdie run to reach five under par, the golfer leading the Stars and Stripes was someone who has become ‘Mr Reliable’ in the majors in 2014; Rickie Fowler.

Having started on the 10th at 8:05 this morning with Victor Dubuisson of France and South Africa’s Ernie Els, 25-year-old Fowler kept his nerve to recover from two early bogeys, recording five birdies in eight holes in the middle of his round and finishing on 69, two under par. Fowler is in a tie for 10th at the time of writing, with six of the nine golfers ahead of him flying various European flags.

There is something about the majors that agrees with Fowler this year, and while he is yet to win one, the Californian is the only golfer to have finished in the top five of all three majors so far: he was tied-fifth in the Masters, tied-second in the US Open and tied-second again in the Open Championship.

“I am pleased with my start,” said Fowler, who has new-found consistency since starting to work with Butch Harmon in December. “I came back from a rough start and played a lot of good swings out there.”

Fowler has played in the final group in the final round at both Opens in 2014 – with Martin Kaymer in the US Open at Pinehurst, and with Rory McIlroy in the Open at Royal Liverpool. If he keeps knocking on the majors door like this, one day soon it is bound to open.

“This year is definitely the most comfortable I have felt in the majors,” he adds. “I felt comfortable at Augusta on the golf course and with the Masters being a major, and it seems like at each major since then I have felt more and more comfortable, and the more I can do it the more confident I feel too.”

Fowler plays in the afternoon tomorrow in the second round, teeing off at 1:15 local time. Click here for second-round USPGA Championship tee times

Robin Barwick travelled to the PGA Championship courtesy of Mercedes-Benz. Mercedes-Benz is the official car of the PGA Championship