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Golf

Great Scott! Australian snatches Open lead

Scott dreams of winning a major championship. (REUTERS/Eddie Keogh)

LYTHAM ST ANNES, England: It was “just like a nice walk in the park” for Adam Scott as the laid-back Australian equalled the course record with a spectacular six-under 64 in the British Open first round Thursday.

The world No. 13 looked poised to fire a 63, which would have tied the record for the four major championships, before dropping a stroke at the 18th.

“I was not expecting it to play like that at all,” Scott told reporters after grabbing an early one-stroke lead over 1999 champion Paul Lawrie and 2007 U.S. Masters winner Zach Johnson as well as Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts, on a benign day at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.

“It was just like a nice walk in the park today – not what we’ve experienced in the practice rounds,” he added, referring to the rainy, windy conditions that prevailed at the start of the week.

“I’m sure there are going to be some weather elements thrown at us the next three days so I’m just going to have to knuckle down to handle that.”

Scott, who turned 32 Monday, recovered in style from a bogey at the third by racking up eight birdies in 13 holes.

However, a hooked tee shot into the left rough at the last was costly and he bogeyed the hole after failing to save his par four from 25 feet (7.62 m).

“I was waiting to use the bathroom on the 17th tee and I looked at the leaderboard and realized it was a par-70,” said the enigmatic Scott after equalling 1996 champion Tom Lehman’s 64 at Lytham.

“I also probably realized I wasn’t going to be the first guy to shoot 62 in a major. It’s one of those things that you don’t want to go through your mind, thinking about your score and stuff like that.”

Scott, with Tiger Woods’s former caddie Steve Williams on his bag, said that on reflection he was not too bothered about his last-hole mishap.

“I just pulled my two-iron slightly off the tee and got myself in a bit of trouble ... but making a bogey here or there is fine.”

“Making double and triple bogeys is what really hurts. So getting out of trouble was good,” he said.

Scott, for a player of his undoubted class, possesses a mediocre record in the majors and is still looking to claim his first victory in a big-four tournament.

“My putting has improved out of sight,” he said. “Two years ago I was 180th on the U.S. PGA Tour and now I’m pretty good – better than average I would say.”

“That’s a big difference but these greens here are always kept at a speed that when there’s no wind we all feel very comfortable and we feel we can hole a lot of putts.”

Scott never allows much to fluster him on the course but he acknowledges that sometimes he needs a bit of stimulation off it.

“I think between Steve and my coach Brad [Malone] ... their little gee-ups are good for me,” he said.

“I can be very patient – which is a good thing at times – but it is also a good thing to get me going right from the start to get me alert.

“I haven’t achieved my goal of winning major championships,” added Scott. “That’s what I dreamt of as a kid.”

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 20, 2012, on page 15.

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