Scott zeroed in early at Open (Video)
BY Bruce Young | European PGA Tour | 2012 The Open Championship | Round One | 20 Jul 2012
The one thing that has been missing from Adam Scott’s game in recent times has been a solid opening round in significant events.
At the Masters, the US Open and the AT&T Championship this year, Scott has cost himself a winning chance by getting behind the eight-ball early then fighting his way back for what would be good solid finishes but never really threatening to contend for the title.
Today, not only has his opening round of the 2012 Open Championship been solid it has been brilliant. His round of six under par, admittedly in outstanding early conditions, was his best in major championship golf and further confirms the progress he has made in major championship performances in recent times.
The changes Scott has made in his game over the past eighteen months are now taking full effect. The introduction of the long putter, the involvement of his brother in law Brad Malone as his coach, his restructuring of schedules to give himself greater opportunity at the big events and finally the engaging of Steve Williams as his caddy have all played their part.
In between bogeys at the 3rd and 18th holes today Scott birdied eight of 14 holes to establish an opportunity for what would be a record breaking round in the history of major championship golf. Scott needed a birdie at the last to better the previous record of 63 but pulled his tee shot and took 5.
As he stood on the 17th tee it dawned on Scott that he was on track to break that historic milestone. “I was waiting to go to the bathroom near the 17th tee and realised it was a par 70 and did the quick maths and realised I was getting close to a 62 but had to block that out.”
“My goal at the start of the week was to play today like it was Sunday and that here was no tomorrow,” said Scott referring to his previous slow starts. "To focus and play the first hole of the tournament as if it was my 22nd has been my goal this week.
“I was playing so well going into the US Open I felt and all of a sudden I was six over through 15 holes of the tournament. I did not hit all that many good shots early today but I was really focused over the first few holes of the tournament.”
We (Steve Williams and Scott) 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."
The last of Scott’s nine birdies today came at the par four 16th and as Scott would say later it highlighted a disciplined approach. “I would like to have hit driver there up near the green but we had our game plan to lay back and we figured we would give ourselves lots of chances for birdie by hitting a six iron and a sand wedge.”
Much of Scott’s improved play can be also be put down to a huge improvement on the greens. "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 that’s a big difference, whether it’s a shot a round or two on average makes a big difference to my scorecard.”
Scott leads by one over Zach Johnson, 1999 Open Champion Paul Lawrie, who confirmed his recent return to form by putting together a six birdie round of 65, and the late finishing Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts.
Lawrie, who won in Qatar earlier in the year, is playing his 20th Open Championship, the highlight that dramatic win at Carnoustie when he came from ten behind heading into the final day.
Johnson has won twice on the PGA Tour this season and comes off a victory last week at the John Deere Classic.
Late in the day Colsaerts joined those players at 5 under. Colsaerts day was highlighted by an eagle with an 8 iron from the fairway at the par four second hole.
The group at 3 under and three from the lead includes major champions Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, Graeme McDowell and Bubba Watson.
Marc Leishman, Brendan Jones and New Zealander Steve Alker were the next best of the Australasians after Scott, the trio recording rounds of 69.
Alker’s round was particularly impressive given his lowly ranking in world golf at present after two years struggling to make cuts on the secondary tour in the US.
Leishman won recently on the PGA Tour and has been considered one of Australia’s next best hopes after securing rookie of the year honours on the PGA Tour in 2009.
John Senden survived a roller coaster round to finish at even par 70, while Aaron Baddeley, Greg Chalmers and Ashley Hall staged late recoveries to finish at 1 over 71.
Hall in particular deserves special mention having made the turn in 6 over and then a back nine of 31 to keep alive his hopes of playing the weekend.
The cut appears likely to fall at 2 or 3 over subject to the conditions that greet the players on day two.
Discuss this article in our forums