Date: November 28, 2013
Author: Mike Clayton at Royal Sydney Golf Club

Clayton: Bad luck Scott’s only challenger

The story of the opening day was clearly Adam Scott who started off the tenth tee with six birdies and finished with four for 62. There were no dropped shots but nor did he birdie the par fives 16th and 2nd or the drivable par four, 1st hole. The forecast for Friday afternoon is horrible and whilst it is tempting to say the championship is over nothing is certain if a big Sydney afternoon storm comes in and blows the scores to smithereens. In the 1980 Open at the nearby Lakes club , a windless morning was followed by a howling afternoon southerly and only three players from last third of the field managed to break forty on the back nine. We wish Scott no ill will but the way he is playing only uncommonly bad luck will see him not take the trophy on Sunday. In the group behind Scott was Aaron Baddeley, the winner here as an amateur in 1999. All that time ago it was assumed the Victorian would ascend to the top of the game. He swung beautifully, putted brilliantly and looked to be sure and confident. Instead within a couple of years he has switched teachers from Dale Lynch to David Leadbetter and then followed Mac O Grady (for less than a week) the Stack and Tilt guys then back to Lynch for a spell. Then came his 1999 Royal Sydney caddy, Dion Kipping and now Grant Waite the former New Zealand Open champion, is working with him. That would, by any standards, qualify as a revolving door. Baddeley is clearly a man on a constant search for the technical answers and a quick study of his driving accuracy and greens in regulation statistics in the American tour suggest he is just about the poorest player from tee to green on that tour. He is also the best putter and, at least from afar, that is what has kept him out there. Waite was a brilliant hitter and the possessor of one of the more admired swings on the tour. If he had putted like Baddeley it goes without saying he would have won a lot more than he did. Baddeley made half the birdies of Scott but neither made a bogey and his 67 was more than admirable. He drove straight, hit the greens in regulation and never looked to be struggling. A fifth place in Malaysia a month ago, his best result for some time, and perhaps teacher and pupil will settle on a method and stay with it. He is far too good a player to be stuck in the middle rank and he is still young enough to win big championships. Rory McIlroy was out late and came in with a birdie at the last for a 69. He had a harder time of the conditions than the early starters and he missed three short putts in the final eight holes. The highlight of his long game play was the three wood second shot into the par five 16th. Playing into the north wind and seemingly out of reach he had 270 yards to the front of the green and managed all but one of them. That he took three from the edge was a complete waste of two awesome wood shots but one assumes he will be more used to he pace of the greens at the end of the week. Scott though is the man of the week and the month. Surely there is a predictability of the final result but that should not matter. He is treating us to some of the best golf we have seen here in years and there is more pleasure to come with the observation of the final three days.