Thursday, 24 August 2006

Australian Adam Scott got his challenge for the World Golf Championships – Bridgestone Invitational off to a flying start when a sensational seven under par 63 gave him the first round lead at the Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio.

At the end of a fascinating opening day’s play, the 26 year old European Tour Member found himself two shots clear of his nearest challenger, American Jason Gore, who had a rollercoaster 65, with another American, Lucas Glover, in third after his opening 66.

Ironically, Scott started in the worst possible fashion, with a bogey five at the tenth hole, his opening hole of the day, but that was one of the few mistakes the Australian had to endure on an excellent opening day.

Birdies at the 16th and 18th saw him to the ‘turn’ in red figures and when he birdied the first three holes of the front nine, he elevated his name to the top of the giant leaderboards dotted all around the South Course.

A bogey five at the fourth stopped his momentum but it proved to be only a momentary blip as the winner of five titles on The European Tour International Schedule quickly resumed his assault on the Firestone course.

He birdied the fifth before a superb approach shot to the sixth left him a mere four foot putt for his seventh birdie of the day. The par three seventh hole was negotiated in regulation fashion before another birdie putt dropped into the cup on the eighth green, this time from 15 feet.

Just to prove he was not finished, Scott also produced a birdie three at the last, another superb approach shot finishing a mere two feet from the pin which left him the simplest of birdie tasks to give him a ‘back nine’ of 29 to set the remaining 77 players in the exclusive field an impressive target which, in the end, none could match.

“It was disappointing to start the way I did but after that I started hitting my wedges and my approaches really well which kind of left me no-brainers for birdies,” he said.

“I haven’t really put together four good rounds for a while and have sort of back-doored into my top tens of late. Hopefully getting off to a fast start will help me put that right this week and I will try and keep up the intensity I felt today over the rest of the week.”

As well as the battle for the enormous first prize of €1,014,833, the week is also intriguing due to the fact it is the penultimate counting event for The European Ryder Cup Team.

There were good days for a couple of players whose place in Ian Woosnam’s Team bound for The K Club is already assured, namely the English duo of Luke Donald and David Howell, who both opened with three under par 67s to sit amongst a group of players in a share of fourth place, a group which includes the defending champion and the winner of last week’s US PGA Championship, Tiger Woods.

One shot behind them after an opening 68 was Spain’s José Maria Olazábal, for whom a good week could go a long way to cementing his seventh Ryder Cup appearance. Currently in the tenth and final automatic counting spot, should the two time Masters Champion finish prominently, he could move into the top five by elevating himself into the top five on the Ryder Cup World Points List.

However, all that depends, obviously, on the performances of others. It promises to be an intriguing final three days.

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