Adam Scott had a chance to make history on Thursday at Royal Lytham & St Annes at The Open in Lancashire, England.
Approaching the 18th hole, Scott had the opportunity to tie the record for lowest round in a major with a 7-under 63 with a par, or could have broken the record with a birdie.
Instead, the 32-year-old Australian, with Tiger Woods's ex-caddie Steve Williams by his side, recorded a bogey, for a first round score of 6-under 64. Scott's performance equaled the course record set by Tom Lehman in 1996.
Scott's highest finish in a major was tied for second at the 2011 Masters, and has recorded Top-25 finishes at five of his last six major championships. He is in prime position leading into the second round, but will rather play in the afternoon tomorrow, and he can only hope that the weather doesn't yield conditions in the middle of the day as it did in the first round.
Scott's game came through as a result of accurate drives, hitting spot-on wedge shots, and nailing putts left and right. He did an excellent job of staying out of the dangerous hazards that define Royal Lytham.
Another notable name who did a superb job of staying out of trouble was Tiger Woods. Caught in the thick stuff on Hole 15 twice, Woods stopped the bleeding by coming away with an impressive bogey.
Woods finished 3-under for the day, and will tee off on Friday afternoon. Woods struck the ball well, and when he doesn't have the driver in his hand on the tee, he has been finding almost every fairway. Woods played a very safe first round, which features four birdies in the first seven holes. He would par the next 10 of 11.
The reason for the stretch of pars was his distance control and shot shaping on his approach shots, which affected his absent birdie production on the back nine. His approached seemed just off on the distance, and his ball wasn't drawing or cutting like he anticipated. This resulted in many 15-foot putts (or longer), and Woods being the streaky golfer that he is, needed to drop a few on the back early to get in a groove.
He failed to do so, but these missed putts only resulted in pars -- no strokes lost.
I felt like I played well, Woods stated. I really hit it well. I was very close to making a few more putts. Every ball was starting on my line. I was very pleased with that. I've just got to hit the putts a little harder.
Rory McIlroy, also a favorite, got off to a strong start, as well. He recorded two birdies and seven pars for a 2-under front nine, but had a pair of sloppy shots to turn his six birdies into a safe 3-under round. The highlight, however, came on Hole 15, where his wayward tee shot hit a spectator in the head, and then careened out of bounds. McIlroy would need to get escorted back up to the tee and hit his third off of the tee box. The Northern Irishman would bogey the hole, but followed up strong -- driving the ball on the next par four onto the green. In a 331-yard shot, 20 feet away from the hole, McIlroy would settle with a birdie. The young star appeared pleased to still be near the top of the leader board after the first round.
A perennial favorite who didn't fare as well was Phil Mickelson. The 42-year-old American sits two strokes above the cut-line going into the second round and shot an unimpressive 37 (+3) on the front, which featured one double bogey, three bogeys, three pars, and two birdies. Mickelson would go even par on the back to solidify his 3-over round, and will need an exceptional second round to improve his standing.
Mickelson's first priority would probably be his drive, as there were numerous times he hit it into the high grass, costing him countless strokes. When Lefty is pounding them straight, his game is often at its best.
I putted poorly today and I drove it horrific and the chipping was below average.
Mickelson finished tied for second at the Open in 2011.
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