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Scott Hot at Open Championship
Adam Scott fired a 6-under 64 to take the opening-round lead in the 141st Open Championship. The third major of the year is taking place at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in England.
Scott, who turned 32 on Monday, carded eight birdies and two bogeys in the morning when it was calm and dry; the weather changed later in the day to cool and damp. "It was like a nice walk in the park today," the Aussie told reporters.
Scott also gave credit to caddie Steve Williams, who urged his low-key employer before the beginning of the round to reverse a trend Scott had in previous Grand Slam events when he had gotten off to slow starts.
"I was playing well at the majors this year, but the first round I'm shooting myself in the foot a little bit and making it too much work to get back in it," Scott noted. "He (Williams) wanted me to go to that first tee today like it was the 72nd hole and you have three to win. That was a good little trigger he kind of helped out with." (See below for Scott's full post-round interview.)
Scott enjoys a one-stroke lead over Scotland's Paul Lawrie, Belgium's Nicholas Colsaerts and American Zach Johnson, who won last week's John Deere Classic on the PGA Tour.
Lawrie carded six birdies - three each on the front and back nines - and a bogey. Lawrie, the surprise Claret Jug winner in 1999, chipped in twice on his first five holes en route to matching his best-ever score in the Open Championship. "Very strange start. Probably the strangest start of my career," he said. "I didn't hit many good shots and I was 3-under . . . Let's hope I can keep going this week. But there's a long way to go."
Johnson believes the win last Sunday at TPC Deere Run is helping him this week. "Quality shots. That's really all you can do here. You can hit - mis hit shots here. I feel it's one of those tournaments where you hit bad shots, usually a bad result. You hit good shots, you can get some good results. You can hit good shots and have bad results. So the point is the more solid you can hit the shot, the better the result can be.
"I'm not trying to be too philosophical here. But my point is a quality shot can turn into pars and eliminating doubles. With conditions like this, obviously an occasional birdie. So my whole philosophy this week is avoiding those fairway bunkers and hitting solid shots, because I'm putting fine."
Tennessee's Brandt Snedeker is in solo fifth after a 66, while former British Open champions Ernie Els and Tiger Woods had 67s to join 2012 Masters winner Bubba Watson, 2010 U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell, Japan's Toshinori Muto, Steve Stricker, Sweden's Peter Hanson and 2011 U.S. Open winner Rory McIlroy in sixth.
Woods, who's seeking his 15th major title this week, played well on the front half but not as good on the back. He carded four birdies on the front and a bogey and eight pars on the inward half. "We knew that we needed at least to get off to a quick start on that front nine, and I figured a couple under would have been good," Woods said. "But I look up on the board and Scotty is going pretty low, and so is everyone else. I felt I had to make a few more, and I was able to."
Woods noted that the difference between his 4-under 30 on the front side and his 1-over back was his touch on the putting surfaces. "I was just lacking a little bit of pace on the greens coming home," he said.
Like many players McDowell took advantage of the balmy morning. "After all the chat about conditions and how difficult this golf course is and how much rain is there going to be, how much wind is there going to be," said the Northern Irishman. "It was kind of weird standing out there on about the 9th tee box looking around in a shirt sleeves at guys being 4 , 5 and 6 under par.
"It was a pretty benign start to the week. I'm in no illusion that this golf course (doesn't have) teeth, though, and could be a bit of a breeze across this course and it could be a sleeping giant for sure. But benign conditions this morning, and it was to take advantage of them."
Watson was pleased with his start. "It was good. This was the first day we had no wind. The wind is starting to pick up a little bit, but not for here. It was all being composed off the tees, making sure I hit the fairways or came close to hitting the fairways, trying to stay out of the bunkers. I hit two shots I wish I could redo. Anytime you shoot under par it's a good day."
Last week's winner at the European Tour's Scottish Open, India's Jeev Milkha Singh, opened with an even-par 70 for a share of 37th with several others, including Jason Dufner, three-time major winners Vijay Singh (no relation) and Padraig Harrington, and No. 1-ranked Luke Donald.
"It was one of those days where I felt like I played pretty solid," Donald told reporters. "I hit a lot of good drives, some pretty solid irons. Hit a lot of greens. Didn't get a lot out of it on the greens, and obviously that last hole leaves a bit of a bitter taste in my mouth. Still it's hopefully a round I can build off. It's an improvement from obviously the last major. And looking forward to hopefully going out in the morning and getting some good conditions and making a few birdies."
Three American veterans - Tom Watson, Mark Calcavecchia and Davis Love III - shot 71s, as did reigning PGA champion Keegan Bradley, two-time major winner Angel Cabrera and England's Ian Poulter.
Like golfers everywhere, Watson was displeased with a couple of scores in his round. "Finishing with a couple of bogeys on 16 and 18 doesn't leave a very good taste in my mouth," said the 62-year-old, who's won five Claret Jugs and three Senior British Open titles.
"But overall it was a good round," Watson added. "Played some good, solid shots. But I hit three terrible shots that cost me bogeys. They weren't even marginally bad shots, they were just terrible shots. And that frustrates me."
David Duval, who won the Open Championship the last time it was played at Royal Lytham in 2001, carded a 74. The past two Open champions, Louis Oosthuizen (2010 at St. Andrews) and Darren Clarke (2011 at Royal St. George's), got off to slow starts; Oosthuizen had a 72 and Clarke a 76.
Clarke was obviously disappointed after his round. "I don't think you could really - I don't think you could publish my thoughts right now," said the 43-year-old Ulsterman. "But I had a lovely tee shot to the first and made a pure putt. From there, it just got worse. I played poorly and I putted worse. It was disappointing, because at practice I hit it really, really well. But what can I do, I tried my best on every shot, but unfortunately it wasn't there again today."
Uncharacteristically playing with a glove on each hand to combat the chilly, damp conditions Thursday afternoon, Phil Mickelson carded a 73 that included three birdies, four bogeys and a double-bogey seven on the par-5 seventh hole. "It's what I do in the bad weather when it's rainy, because I don't lose traction, it also keeps my hands warm," Lefty said of his two-gloves approach.
Also shooting 73 was No. 2-ranked Lee Westwood, who said his opening effort was not unexpected due to his recent poor play. "I was struggling in this thing at little bit at the moment, and the start sort of was a bit of a lie, really. It was nice to birdie the first two holes, but I don't feel in control of the ball at the moment," said the Englishman, who's still looking for his first major title. "And you get found out pretty quickly around an Open Championship golf course, no matter what the conditions are like."
For complete scoring, visit http://www.pga.com/openchampionship/scoring/leaderboard.
After signing for his 64, Scott met with reporters and discussed his day at Royal Lytham. Here's what he had to say.
MODERATOR: We have Adam Scott in with us this afternoon. Fantastic 6 under par and 64, which equals the lowest score here at Lytham, which I think is a previous ties with Tom Lehman back in '96. I hope that might be a good omen for you Adam.
ADAM SCOTT: Very pleased with the start, obviously. It's nice just to take advantage of the calm conditions today. It was surprising but very pleasing to go out and play some solid golf. It's what I haven't done the first rounds of the majors this year, and that was my goal here, really, starting the week was to play today like it was Sunday and there was no tomorrow. I did a good job of that, and now I've got my work cut out for me the next couple of days to keep myself in a similar kind of position.
Q. Two part question: Are you aware that there's never been a 62 in a major championship round, and secondly at any point during the round were you thinking about 62?
ADAM SCOTT: Yeah, I know there's never been a 62. And I was waiting to use the bathroom going to the 17th tee and I did a look at the leaderboard and realized it was a par 70. And I also probably then realized that I wasn't going to be the guy to shoot 62. It's one of those things that you don't want to go through your mind, thinking about your final score and stuff like that. So I got rid of that quickly and got on to playing the 17th. But unfortunately dropped one up the last.
Q. How frustrating was that, the dropped shot?
ADAM SCOTT: Not much, I just pulled my 2 iron slightly off the tee. It's quite an awkward tee shot with no wind, even. And just got myself in a bit of trouble and tried to be smart and chip out and chip on, but didn't quite hit a good third shot and left myself too much work. But, you know, making a bogey here or there is fine. Making doubles and triples is what really hurts. So just getting out of trouble was good.
Q. You've proven a good frontrunner in the past. Does that give you confidence going into the next three rounds?
ADAM SCOTT: Just this round, I think, gives me a little bit of confidence going into the next three rounds. But I'm not really expecting it to play like this at all. It was just like a nice walk in the park today, and it was not what we've experienced in the practice rounds. I'm sure there's going to be some weather elements thrown at us the next three days. So just going to have to knuckle down to handle that. But I'm confident. My ball striking is good. I think I can get it around no matter what the conditions are.
Q. You mentioned a different mindset from the first round of the majors previously this year. Has it been a matter of too conservative approach or just focus, or what was the problem?
ADAM SCOTT: Yeah, a little bit, maybe too conservative and almost too patient. I was playing so well going into the U.S. Open I felt, and all of a sudden I was 7 over through 15 holes of the tournament, and you can't pick up that many shots in a major. So to focus and play the first hole at the tournament like it's the 72nd and you've got to make three to win was kind of my mindset on the first tee this morning, really switch on right from the first tee and not just see how it goes for the first few holes. That was really the difference. I didn't hit that good of shots but I was really focused on what I was doing the first few holes today.
Q. How much of an advantage is it to have a caddie who has experience of winning this tournament? Is there anything specifically you've drawn on that he's said to you this week that you've been able to use today?
ADAM SCOTT: Yeah, well, look, it's something that at any given time could help me, a guy with experience like Steve. But we talked about that mindset because I was playing well at all the majors this year, but the first round I'm shooting myself in the foot a little bit and making it too much work to get back in it. And he wanted me to go to that first tee today like it was the 72nd hole and you have three to win. And really switch yourself on from the first hole. That was a good little trigger he kind of helped out with.
Q. You holed quite a few putts today, which you haven't always done. Maybe Augusta you struggled with the greens. Do you feel today that your putting has improved or was it just that the greens you're more comfortable with the pace of them?
ADAM SCOTT: No, my putting has improved out of sight. I mean, two years ago I was 180th on Tour, and now I'm pretty good. Better than average, I would say. So that's a big difference, whether it's a shot a round or two on average makes a big difference to my scorecard. But these greens are always kept at a speed that when there's no wind we all feel very comfortable and we feel like we can hole a lot of putts. They're very flat and very subtle breaks. If you get your eye on them, you feel like you can make a lot of putts, they roll pure. And you've got to take advantage of that.
Q. When you bogeyed the 3rd, did that wake you up in any way, because you obviously go 7 under or so the next 11. Did that make you think, you know, this is the time I need to take advantage of what's - of these conditions?
ADAM SCOTT: I don't know that I thought quite that. But I felt like I didn't have to panic, like I'm over par through three and the tournament is slipping away from me. It was important to bounce straight back, though, I think, and get a birdie on 4 and settle myself a little bit. On 3 I got it out of position, and I didn't want that to be the theme of the day, so to hit a good tee shot off 4 kind of settled me down and got going from there. And then I just kept hitting good shots, much like how I felt in practice. It was nice.
Q. Just as a follow, last year at Bridgestone I remember Steve was geeing you up Thursday morning as if it was Sunday, and you went out and shot 62 and then sort of romped on. Is that how the feeling was today?
ADAM SCOTT: Yeah, a little bit. I think between myself, Steve and Brad, my coach, we could all see how nicely I've been playing the practice rounds. And I think their little gee ups are good for me. I like that, I can feed off of it because I can cruise a little bit too much when I'm out on the golf course, and I can be very patient, which is a good thing at times. But good thing to get me going right from the start and get me alert.
Q. How would you describe your career so far? Would you say you've achieved your goals or do you think you've slightly underachieved?
ADAM SCOTT: Well, I haven't achieved my goal of winning major championships. That's what I've dreamt of as a kid and that's what I made goals when I turned pro and what I've thought about since turning pro, so I guess I haven't achieved that. Everything else fits into the process of doing so. So I still feel like I've got a lot to play for and a lot to achieve, but it's been a good career. I've won tournaments. And most guys like to judge their success on winning. I've won a couple of tournaments most years, which is a good habit to have, because it's getting harder and harder to win out here. And I'm looking for a win this year. But I would say I haven't achieved what I wanted until I win a major or more.
Q. Do you have any relatives around here that follow you?
ADAM SCOTT: I do, yeah. My dad's cousins live down the road in Freckleton. They'll be here. They were out there today.
Q. It was your birthday two or three days ago. Did you do anything?
ADAM SCOTT: Played 18 out here (laughter). I did think it was quite an interesting gift that I was given this year by my family. They gave me a golf bag (laughter). It was a very nice golf bag, though, I have to say. And I will use it when I'm at home, if I carry my clubs. It's a small little leather one, and I like that kind of thing. But I thought it was quite a funny present to give me a golf bag.
Q. Are you ever in contact with Peter Thomson, a fellow Aussie?
ADAM SCOTT: Yeah, I occasionally speak to Peter when we cross paths. I don't know if he's here this week. He often comes to the Open. I saw him last November in Australia. He's the first pro I ever caddied for, actually, when I was 10. But he's had a lot of advice for me over the years. He always encourages me in his own way.
Q. Greg has obviously been an influence in your career. What are your memories of his two Open Championships and how inspirational have they been for you?
ADAM SCOTT: Well, my memories of his first one, I don't remember a lot. I think I was six. But when he won at St. George's in '93 I watched every bit of it. And that was huge for me because it was about that time I was stopping playing other sports and really wanting to be a golfer, and he was my idol. So to see him win that one really spurred me along as it would any kid looking at his hero winning the biggest championship in golf. I have great memories of watching him play at St. George's, I could probably tell you every shot he hit that Sunday. And he played pure. That was a big part of a big time in my life I would say, golf wise.
Q. Is it good to give Aussie sport a lift after the one-dayers in Wimbledon wasn't too hot?
ADAM SCOTT: Well, it is, hopefully. Yeah, a little bit of a lull for Aussie sport at the moment, I guess. But my football team is on top of the ladder back home so I'm happy with them.
MODERATOR: Best of luck this week.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.
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