Last night could have been history-making for Adam Scott
Adam Scott, from Australia, hits for the sand to the 10th green during the first round of the Bridgestone Invitational golf tournament Thursday, Aug. 6, 2009, at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio. AP Photo/Mark Duncan
Adam Scott leads the British Open at Royal Lytham and St Annes with an opening round 64. But it could have been so much more memorable.
As a kid, Scott idolised Greg Norman, the last Australian winner of The Open in 1993.
Unfortunately, the 32-year-old also picked up the “Shark’s” worst habit – the choke.
Standing on the 18th tee last night at 7-under, Scott needed to birdie the last to become the first golfer in major’s history to card a 62.
Five golfers have shot 63s at The Open, 23 in the four majors, with Johnny Miller the first in the 1973 US Open.
With an iron in his hand “for safety” on the long par 4, Scott duck-hooked his tee shot into thick cabbage and bogied the hole.
That’s why he hasn’t won a major in 45 attempts, with only seven top 10 finishes, missing 15 cuts. Scott is a far better golfer than those stats suggest.
It’s the ultimate in frustration watching him as it was with Norman, who won only two British Opens in 1986 and 1993, when he was very capable of winning at least a dozen majors and be right up there with the elite where he deserves to be for a golfer who was world number one for 331 weeks.
Until he choked.
The worst was the 1996 Masters. Leading by six shots over playing partner Nick Faldo going into the final round at Augusta, Norman shot 78, Faldo 67 – an 11-shot swing – and Faldo won by five.
Despite golf’s biggest choke, Norman still finished second as he did in nine majors – four at the Masters, the one major he most dearly wanted to win, two each at the US Open, and the USPGA championship, and one British Open.
So close, yet so far.
He would willingly have given up any of his 88 tournament wins worldwide to avoid his play-off record, where he lost all four majors – the 1984 US Open to Fuzzy Zoeller, 1987 Masters to Larry Mize, 1989 British Open to Mark Calcavecchia, and the 1993 USPGA to Paul Azinger.
Matched only by American Craig Wood in the 1930s, it is the most unwanted record in golf.
Let’s see what Adam Scott can do this week to break the curse: his 64 is leading Paul Lawrie, Zack Johnson, and Nicolas Colsaerts by a shot going into tonight’s second round.
Lurking is plenty of talent, with Brandt Snedeker (66), and Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els, Bubba Watson, Tiger Woods, Graeme McDowell, Toshinori Muto, Steve Stricker, and Peter Hanson with 67s.
Woods jumped out of the blocks with four birdies in the first seven holes before the wheels came off and he became snarly.
Veteran television commentator Peter Alliss isn’t like the majority of his peers who idolise Woods, where he can do no wrong. There’s always an excuse when he goes off the boil.
Not so with Alliss: “Woods doesn’t do much to make the crowds love him,” as Woods snarled from one shot to another on the homeward nine.
But Woods can’t be discounted, and it be interesting to see how he bounces back tonight, and in what mood. The snarlier he gets, the worse he plays.
On the other side of the coin, six genuine pre-tournament contenders will struggle to make the cut – Phil Mickelson and Lee Westwood shot 73s, Justin Rose 74, Robert Allenby 75, defending champion Darren Clarke 76, and recent world number one Martin Kaymer with 77.
Moving day may well be 24 hours early. It’s normally Saturday.