Date: July 11, 2008

Stars struggle in Scotland

Unheralded pair Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand and Sweden&aposs Alexander Noren stole the spotlight in the opening round of the Scottish Open as three of the world&aposs top six – including Australian Adam Scott – struggled to make an impact. Jaidee, a 39-year-old former paratrooper, set the early clubhouse target of seven-under and was joined late in the evening by Noren, who had started from the 10th and went out in 34 before covering the front nine in just 30 shots. They lead by one stroke from former US Open champion Angel Cabrera, who shot 65 to be at six-under. But it was the performances of major drawcards Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els and Scott that had everybody talking. Each struggled to live up to their star billing, Mickelson carding an even-par 71 and a frustrated Els dropping two shots in his last three holes to finish at one-over alongside Scott. “Right now I should not even play tomorrow, that&aposs how I feel,” said Els, twice a winner at this tournament and third last year. “I played some good stuff and bad stuff and probably could have finished two under quite easily but it was tough.” Mickelson, who lost in a play-off to Gregory Havret 12 months ago, carded three birdies and three bogeys. “I just couldn&apost get the ball to drop but I fought hard to get it round near par,” he said. “After a three-week lay-off I sometimes have trouble with my putting in the first round back but I&aposm looking forward to tomorrow and a round in the low 60s can get me back into the tournament.” Jaidee has missed a large part of this season with a prolapsed disc in his back and will fly home for treatment next week – unless he qualifies for the Open by finishing in the top five here. “I have my back injury because it&aposs such a long flight, 10 or 11 hours, from Asia to Europe,” he explained. “I saw a doctor and he told me I cannot do anything for three months.” “The doctor wants to see me again and then he can see what&aposs wrong and then he can do something. I have to go for an X-ray but if I get in I could play next week.” Richard Green is the leading Australian in the field after carding an excellent 67 to be at four-under and in a large group of players including Lee Westwood, Henrik Stenson and Thomas Bjorn. Westwood&aposs flawless round – which ended when a birdie putt from five feet on the last lipped out – left him in a confident mood ahead of next week&aposs Open Championship at Royal Birkdale. “I&aposve never been as confident going into an Open as I am at the moment,” he said. “When I won the Order of Merit in 2000 this was the sort of consistency I showed, but I won six events on tour that year.” “I haven&apost been far off winning four or five events this year, it&aposs a fine line between finishing third like I&aposve done and winning like I did in 2000.” New Zealand&aposs Michael Campbell returned to some semblance of form with a two-under 69, while compatriot Gareth Paddison and Aussies Peter Fowler and Scott Strange are a stroke further back. First Round Scores from the Barclays Scottish Open, Glasgow -7: Thongchai Jaidee 64, Alexander Noren 64 -6: Angel Cabrera 65 -5: John Bickerton 66, Niclas Fasth 66, Garry Houston 66 -4: Thomas Bjorn 67, Johan Edfors 67, Martin Erlandsson 67, Richard Green (Australia) 67, Maarten Lafeber 67, Thomas Levert 67, Pablo Martin 67, Graeme McDowell 67, Patrik Sjoland 67, Henrik Stenson 67, Sven Struver 67, Lee Westwood 67 Also: -2: Michael Campbell (New Zealand) 69 -1: Scott Strange (Australia) 70, Peter Fowler (Australia) 70, Gareth Paddison (New Zealand) 70 +1: Adam Scott (Australia) 72, Matthew Milller (Australia) 72 +2: Peter O Malley (Australia) 73, Mark Brown (New Zealand) 73 +3: Marcus Fraser (Australia) 74