Date: July 18, 2014
Author: Martin Blake /

Scott right in mix at Open

Relentless ball-striking gave Adam Scott an outstanding start to his tilt at the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool today.

Scott played a wonderful front nine and then parachuted through the run home for an opening 68, four-under par, to sit in a tie for third behind Northern Ireland's rampant Rory McIlroy (66) after the first round.

The Australian is well placed, just two shots back, and played arguably the round of the day given that his round was negotiated in the toughest conditions of the day. The morning draw players such as McIlroy were afforded breathless weather that was unlike links golf, and the course played a full three shots harder in the afternoon when Scott was on the course.

The world No. 1 made a long birdie putt on the fourth hole to ignite his round, then rammed home an eagle on the fifth and another birdie on the ninth to go through the front nine in 31, but he struggled on the back nine with three bogeys and three birdies, and could not take advantage of the par-five 18th, where he only made par.

"It's a good start,'' said Scott. "I've got a long way to go, 36 holes to put myself in a position. So I'll just be grinding the next two days. If I keep swinging well I think I’ll give myself enough chances to be there. Like I said Tuesday or Wednesday, I’ve kind of got to make it happen when I'm playing well at the moment.

"This has been a big focus for everyone in my crew this year. We felt we've been close the last couple of years and obviously to win the Claret Jug is such a huge thing. Our mind has been firmly set on Hoylake this year and doing well here.''

It could have been much better for Scott, who his 77 percent of greens and 64 percent of fairways, bombing his driver quite often where many other players preferred safer irons off the tee. "Most of the front nine,you're getting some assist with the wind,'' he said. "Then you get to 11 and you turn straight back into it. It was tougher this afternoon, for sure. The wind kicked up a bit and the back nine played very tough coming back into it most of the time and then in and across, and all of those kind of things make it very demanding but I positioned it off the tee really nice today.Eighteenwas messy but there were a couple of short putts and a couple of par-5s I didn’t take advantage of, and from a good position. But to keep pace with an early lead is important, I think.''

Scott was the best of the Australians although Victorian Marc Leishman, who opened with a fine 69, also is in contention. John Senden and Matt Jones, who chipped in for eagle at the final hole, both carded respectable one-under-par 71s, while Rhein Gibson soaked up the atmosphere on his Open debut with an even-par 72, and Jason Day went one-over with a 73. Brett Rumford had a 75 but young Victoria pro Bryden Macpherson had a nightmare with an opening 90.

Former world No. 1 Tiger Woods was impressive with a 69, despite beginning with two bogeys.

But it was McIlroy's day. Launching his driver and attacking the course, he capitalised on the benign morning conditions in his 66, reviving memories of his opening 63 at St Andrews in 2010. The Irishman has a history of falling away after making bright starts, a fact he acknowledged afterward.

"I had a bad Friday afternoon at Augusta and just made the cut,'' he said. "Then I started horrifically at Quail Hollow and did the same at Sawgrass. That’s like three tournaments in a row so that’s when I started to be conscious of it.I was three over par on Friday at (the BMW PGA) at Wentworth but managed to get it back but the Memorial (he shot 63, 78) was obviously the biggest one.

"However, there’s nothing really to it. It might just be about higher expectations going out on Friday after a low round on Thursday so I’m going to try to put those expectations aside and take one hole at a time. Iexpect to stick to my game plan and hit good shots. Iknow that if I execute my game plan, the low numbers are there for me to shoot.''


66 McIlroy (N Ire)

67 Manassero (Italy)

68 SCOTT (Aust), Koepka (US), E Molinari (Italy), F Molinari (Italy), Furyk (US), Lowry (Ireland), Garcia (Spain)

69 LEISHMAN (Aust)

Other Australians

71 Jones, Senden

72 Gibson

73 Day

75 Rumford

90 Macpherson