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 on Thursday.The world number 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 US Masters winner Zach Johnson on a benign day at Royal Lytham & St Annes. "It was just like a nice walk in the park — 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 on 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.
“I was waiting to use the bathroom on the 17th tee and I looked at the leaderboard and realised it was a par-70,” said the enigmatic Scott after equalling 1996 champion Tom Lehman’s 64 at Lytham.
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 US 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.
“I’ve won a couple of tournaments most years, which is a good habit to have, but I haven’t achieved what I want until I win a major or more."
Woods signals intent
It was by no means the best round Tiger Woods has played in a British Open but worryingly for the rest of the field the 14-times major winner putted superbly on slow greens to begin his title bid with a rock-solid 67.
The former world number one started like a train with four birdies in seven holes on his way to a three-under-par first round which left him three shots behind Scott. Woods rolled back the years with some phenomenal putting, an area of his game he has struggled with since the personal problems and injuries that have left him without a major title for four years.