Fowler's round was highlighted by birdies on 5 of his first 7 holes.
South's Koreas Sung Kang was tied with Fowler at -8 going to the 18th tee, but Kang bogeyed to finish one shot back at -7.
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Two golfers including former Texas Longhorn Jhonattan Vegas are 2 shots back at -6.
Another former Longhorn and fan favorite Jordan Spieth had an up and down round after two bogies on the front nine.
Spieth finished -3 and is 5 shots back. Phil Mickleson ended at even par and defending champ Jim Herman was 2 over.
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