Adam Scott went out with the dew on the grass and the wind but a zephyr, smashed the course record with a 62, and no one came near him. He was untouchable. Not Jason Day (70), who had watched the show from close range, nor Rory McIlroy, whose 69 in the more difficult afternoon conditions was meritorious. The Emirates Australian Open is Scott&aposs to win or lose now, although strong winds are forecast tomorrow, and he has an afternoon tee-off. Nobody had gone lower than 65 at Royal Sydney before. Surely no one has produced so clean a ball-striking round. The astonishing thing about his 10-birdie romp was that he needed no chip-in, nor bombed putt or hole-out from a trap. He simply hit his approaches close and rolled the ball in, none from more than the four-metre putt he produced at the 15th. He hit 15 greens and had just 24 putts, popping an exclamation mark on it all by hitting a sand wedge shot to less than a metre at the last for another kick-in birdie. He began with six, consecutive birdies from the 10th to the 15th holes so that a 59 momentarily entered his mind, lost his momentum with eight straight pars until the sixth hole, his 15th of the day, and promptly birdied the last four in a row. Because he started on the 10th, his score card will show 10 birdies in a row, a fact he wryly noted would be handy for bragging rights down the track. His lowest tournament round is the 61 he carded to win the Qatar Masters in 2008, but Scott regards a 62 he had at Muirfield Village in 2007 as his best-ever single round. On that day he led the field by five. Today, he actually had what he called “a rollercoaster&apos&apos, struggling through the middle section of his round. “I can&apost sit here and complain about anything but a bit like last week in the first round, the swing wanders on a couple of shots and it did it again today. It&aposs not quite in the slot, although I hit a lot of great shots today. It&aposs a bit – I don&apost know the right way to say it – it&aposs not as free flowing as the first couple of weeks. The swing is a bit of hard work for me at the moment.&apos&apos It is ridiculous, the quality of golf he is playing right now and although he craves a break — he will not play again until the PGA Tour&aposs Hawaii swing in January — in truth, he could do with some more tournaments right now rather than the hiatus. At this rate, the so-called triple crown of Australian golf will seem like a dawdle when in fact it has only ever been done once, by Robert Allenby in 2005. The 33-year-old had a big gallery following him today despite the early, 7.10am hit-off from the 10th, the most handsome crowds seen at Australian golf for years. The crowd was estimated at 12,000, but most of them were with Scott, Day and Kevin Streelman. “We had people queueing up at quarter to six in the morning, and that&aposs just phenomenal,&apos&apos said Golf Australia&aposs chief executive Stephen Pitt. “Without getting too premature, I think we&aposre harking back to the great days of the 1990s and 2000s when we had such a charismatic figure as Greg Norman leading the charge. I think Adam&aposs sort of assuming that sort of popularity with Australian crowds and the Australian sporting audiences.&apos&apos Scott was taken aback. “I wasn&apost expecting that this morning at all, maybe tomorrow afternoon but just incredible crowds this morning and so nice that I was able to hit a few nice shots for them and get it going,&apos&apos he said. “It&aposs fun to see golf on a bit of a high down here at the moment; really it&aposs been a lot of fun to play in front of everyone.&apos&apos A birdie from two metres got the adrenaline running, and he would turn in 30. “I felt the first few holes the swing was right where I wanted it and I just went for it,&apos&apos he said. “I figured I&aposve got nothing to lose and had a perfect morning for it. Steve (caddie Steve Williams) and I have felt there&aposs been a good round in there and a really good week where I can make few mistakes and come and put my foot down and go. So today was the perfect day to do that after that kind of start.&apos&apos Scott leads the Open by three shots after the first round. His nearest challenger is unheralded Canadian professional Ryan Yip, whose 65 equalled the old course record and would have made headlines on another day. Yip is based in the US, and has played several seasons on the web.com tour. More recently he is playing the OneAsia Tour, and he took a liking to Royal Sydney. “Last time I was in Australia it was more like a Florida golf course, so a place like this, I&aposm happy to be here,&apos&apos he said. “I like to see the ball running and that&aposs what this course offers me.&apos&apos Among those in the chasing pack are Aaron Baddeley, the 1999 and 2000 Open champion, who had a 67 to show that he is making some progress after a disappointing 2013 season in America. There is plenty on the line for the likes of Baddeley, with three spots in the field for the 2014 British Open Championship at Royal Liverpool available not to mention his native Open title. Those three spots will go to the highest-placed finishers who are not already exempt, with Scott, McIlroy, American Kevin Streelman and Jason Day being the four who are automatically in. McIlroy shot three-under par, finishing with a nice birdie, and he has an early tee-off tomorrow, potentially a big advantage. Fifty kilometre an hour winds are tipped to blow across Royal Sydney in the afternoon, when Scott is playing. But right now, he is a hurricane himself.
Author: Martin Blake at Royal Sydney