How would Adam Scott rate an Australian triple crown?
Before his amazing record 10-under first round at Royal Sydney, Australian PGA and Masters title-holder Adam Scott was asked about his hopes for the triple crown.
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Jason Day might have felt like leaving halfway through his round the way Adam Scott was playing alongside him and the just-crowned World Cup champion did jump the fence on Thursday – but only to collect his ball after a wayward shot, not to do a runner.
“I actually hit it left, I think it [the fence] was like part of the driving range or something and I couldn’t get around it,” Day said after he shot a two-under 70.
“I would have had to run 100 metres or so to get around it, so I just jumped the fence and hit my shot over and then jumped back over. I’m glad I didn’t hurt myself.”
Jason Day shakes hands with Adam Scott after they finished their first rounds. Photo: Reuters
Day, who combined with Scott to win the teams component of the World Cup in Royal Melbourne last week, admitted he felt like he was “watching the show” as Scott, grouped with him and American Kevin Streelman, hit six birdies to open his round on the way to a course-record 62.
“It’s not too hard at all, you’re just watching the show really,” Day said. “That’s how the best players in the world play and I got to witness it today and it was special. That’s something that I’m going to remember for a long time. I look forward to playing with him tomorrow and hopefully catching him.”
Golf officials, meanwhile, are expecting many people to come and watch Scott’s show on Friday as well as the weekend, as the world No. 2 attempts to secure a triple crown of Australian majors in a calendar year.
Golf Australia boss Stephen Pitt compared the buzz around Scott, the US Masters champion, with that brought by Greg Norman to Australian golf decades ago.
“We had people queuing up at a quarter to six in the morning – that’s phenomenal,” Pitt said. “I think we’re at a point now, without getting too premature . . . I think we’re harking back to the great days of the ’90s and 2000s when we had such a charismatic figure as Greg Norman leading the charge. I think Adam’s assuming that popularity with Australian crowds and Australian sporting audiences.”
A crowd of about 12,000 went through the gates on Thursday, and Pitt expects more on Friday, given Scott and Day are teeing off in the afternoon. More will pour through the gates at the weekend.
“It’s a dream come true,” Pitt said. “And the way he [Scott] played, to start the 2013 championship with six consecutive birdies in front of really good crowds is just phenomenal. I think the whole of Sydney’s been waiting to see him . . . I think the fear with Adam coming in was that he might be tired coming into this week. I think it’s the first time in maybe seven years that he’s played four weeks in a row . . . if he is tired, he certainly found the tonic this morning. The hope is that we have Jason up there as well, and Rory [McIlroy], and some of those other great Australian players fighting it out.
“It would be terrific.”
Badders in form
It’s not often you can shoot five under and still be five shots off the lead on the first day of a tournament. But Aaron Baddeley, the 1999 winner of the Australian Open at Royal Sydney, achieved that feat on Thursday.
“That’s a fair round out there,” Baddeley said of Scott afterwards. “I was happy with five, but 10 under is a really, really good score.”
His round of 67 will be slightly lost amid the enormity of Scott’s effort, but Baddeley is quietly content to be well placed as he looks to find some of the form that made him one of Australia’s best prospects early in his career. “I played nice,” Baddeley said. “I felt like I got better as the round went on. I was a touch scratchy in the first couple of holes, but I played quite nicely around the rest of the way in. I’m very pleased with the start. Five under’s a good score – three rounds to go, so I’m right in it early.”
Kim Felton also put himself quietly in contention – until the final hole of his round. Felton was disqualified after signing for a four-under 68 when he had shot a 69. The mistake occurred on the ninth, his final hole; Felton signed for a par having hit bogey. He realised the mistake when his caddy phoned him 10 minutes after his round, scrambled back to the scorer’s hut, but having already left the area, was disqualified – potentially costing himself a hefty pay day. Having put a few dollars on him after strong practice this week, the Hacker lost out, too.