With round one almost completed, Adam Scott leads the 141st Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes by a single shot from Paul Lawrie, Nicolas Colsaerts and Zach Johnson after a superb opening 64.
The Australian had a chance to post the first 62 in Major Championship history. He needed a birdie three at the difficult closing hole to achieve the feat. But, his drive found the left hand rough and he was unable to reach the green from there. He failed to get up and down and the resulting bogey five meant he signed for a six-under-par 64.
“I’m very pleased with the start, obviously. It’s nice just to take advantage of the calm conditions today,” he said. “It was surprising but very pleasing to go out and play some solid golf. It’s what I haven’t done the first rounds of the majors this year, and that was my goal here”
Scott became aware he had the chance of being the first man to shoot a 62 with two holes left to play and he admitted it made him lose a little focus.
“It’s one of those things that you don’t want to go through your mind, thinking about your final score and stuff like that, he said. “I got it out of my mind as quickly as I could and managed to par the 17th, but unfortunately I dropped one up the last.”
1999 Open champion Paul Lawrie continued his excellent form of this year with an opening 65. The Scot fired six birdies and dropped only a single shot.
“Well it’s a great start,” he said. “Let’s hope I can keep it going, there’s a long way to go though.”
Lawrie is tied for second place with 2007 Masters champion and last week’s winner on the PGA Tour, Zach Johnson. The American reached six-under-par with two holes left to play, but he dropped a shot on the 17th and finished with a 65.
“I played well,” he said. “But it’s just one day and I’m going to grab the positive feelings from last week.”
Also posting 65 was Belgium’s Nicolas Colsaerts who holed his second shot to the second for an eagle two.
Tiger Woods looked as though he might produce something special as he raced out of the blocks with four birdies in his first seven holes, reaching the turn in 30. But he stuttered somewhat on the back nine and came home in a one-over-par 37. He’s three shots off the lead on three-under-par.
“I felt like I played well today. I really hit it well, he said. “I was very close on making a few more putts. Every ball was starting right on my line. I was very pleased with that. I’ve just got to hit the putts a little harder.”
It’s an impressive looking leaderboard with seven Major winners currently in the top-10. 2010 US Open champion Graeme McDowell came in with a battling 67 and that was matched by Bubba Watson and Ernie Els.
Defending Open champion Darren Clarke endured a poor day on the links. He limped home with a disappointing 76 and will have his work cut out to make the cut. He was uncompromising in assessing his performance.
“I’m basically disgusted with myself for shooting six-over,” he said. “I played poorly and putted worse. It’s disappointing because at practice I hit it really well.”
62-year-old Tom Watson carded a solid round of 71, but felt he left shots on the course.
“Overall it was a good round,” said the five-times champion. “But finishing with bogeys on the 16th and 18th doesn’t leave a very good taste in my mouth. I hit three terrible shots that cost me bogeys. They weren’t even marginally bad shots, they were just terrible shots and that frustrates me.”
Playing conditions were ideal around the links at Lytham today and the forecast for the rest of the week looks relatively benign, though there may be some rain tomorrow and stronger winds on Sunday. So the good scoring could well continue through rounds two and three and those over par at the end of today have something of a mountain to climb.