By Steve Keating
AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) - While most of the favorites were making strong starts to the 80th Masters on Thursday, world number five Rickie Fowler was an exception, stumbling to an eight-over 80 and free-falling to the bottom of the Augusta leaderboard.
Baffled by the gusting winds, Fowler got his day off to a disastrous start with a double bogey at the first but quickly got his round headed in the right direction with birdies at two, three and five.
Making the turn at level par, the 27-year-old American looked poised to make a back nine move into contention but then the wheels fell off with a triple bogey at 13, where his third shots found the creek guarding the green.
A double bogey at 16 and bogeys at 10, 14 and 18 compounded his misery.
"Golf's not an easy game," lamented Fowler, after his second worst ever round at a major.
"Golf's tough, it is a fine line, especially at this place. I mean, I go play a decent back nine and I'm three-under par.
"It can go either way and it can definitely go the other way, the high number way, a lot easier than it can the low. They can add up quick."
A winner in Abu Dhabi and runner-up in Phoenix, Fowler headed to the practice range immediately after his round sitting 14 shots back of clubhouse leader Jordan Spieth, the defending champion.
(Editing by Andrew Both)