Great Scott takes lead at OpenBy: ALLAN KELLY
LYTHAM – Australia’s Adam Scott flirted with golfing history in the first round of the British Open at Royal Lytham yesterday before settling for a six-under par 64 and the clubhouse lead.
The 31-year-old from Adelaide, seen as one of the best players currently not to have won a major title, came to the last needing a birdie to become the first player in the long history of the majors to record a 62.
Instead, a wayward drive into thick Lancashire rough resulted in a closing bogey and meant that Scott was even deprived the satisfaction of joining the 25 other golfers who have recorded 63s in major golf.
It was enough, however, to place him atop the leaderboard with the lowest first round ever fired in 11 Opens at Lytham and it matched the course record in Open play, the third-round 64 by Tom Lehman on his way to victory in 1996.
“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,” Scott said of his bogey at the last.
“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.”
Scott was not alone in mauling the revered Royal Lytham links course, which was hosting the world’s oldest golf tournament for the 11th time.
With the fairways and greens unusually soft and receptive after weeks of recond rainfall in northwest England, and no breeze to speak of wafting in off the Irish Sea, the layout was largely defenceless.
Until Scott went on his charge down the back nine, Tiger Woods had been leading the way at four under after just seven holes.
It could have been even better for the 36-year-old American if not for a depressing run of birdie putts that went agonisingly close from the eighth hole.
He dropped a shot at the 15th but still came in with a fine 67, which leaves him handily placed in his quest for a 15th major title, having waited over four years after he last won the US Open at Torrey Pines.
Five other winners of major titles were, like Woods, lurking just behind Scott atop the leaderboard.