Scott and Casey in Ballantine's contention
26 Apr 2012 - 17:46:58
World number 12 Adam Scott was well placed to mount an assault at the Ballantine's Championship despite getting off to the worst possible start in his first round on Thursday.
It was a day when the Blackstone Golf Club's picturesque mountain setting in Icheon, South Korea, was illuminated by bright sunshine and clear skies to reveal all its glory and its toughness.
With a fierce, chilly wind ripping through the valleys, Scott, starting his round from the 10th tee early Thursday, put his drive into the middle of the fairway but then found water and took a double-bogey six.
"Somehow I drove it down the middle of the fairway (on 10). But it was straight into the wind and it was freezing cold and I couldn't feel my hands," the highest ranked player in the field said.
"Second shot was, you know, a cold golf swing with a stiff body. Straight in the water, so an easy double."
Scott warmed to his task, kept his ball under control and finished with a birdie at the ninth, to card a one-under par 71, just three shots off the lead held by world number 168 Victor Dubuisson of France.
Scott was just a shot behind five players tied for second place on two-under 70: England's Paul Casey, Richie Ramsay of Scotland, Jamie Donaldson of Wales, Englishman Mark Foster and South Korea's own Jung Ji-ho.
Casey, the former world number three, was happy to have put his injury hit-start to the season behind him on a difficult day in the gusting winds.
"I'm very happy with two-under," said the current world number 45, who only returned to playing in March after dislocating his shoulder snowboarding in the winter.
"It's only the second time I have played the course and conditions were completely different to yesterday. The shoulder feels great, I'm just trying to get the comfort back on the golf course," added Casey.
Scott's finishing flourish left the Australian pleased with his day's work. "Anything under par today is a very good score," Scott told AFP. "It's one of those days in golf where you can lose it on the first day easily and play your way out of the tournament.
"It was important for me to scramble and stay in touch. I'll go into tomorrow really optimistic."
Scott was joined at one-under by eight other players on a day where a full field of 156 golfers teed off but only 16 managed to break par.
British Open Champion Darren Clarke, playing in his first tournament in South Korea, struggled with his putting on the undulating greens and returned a disappointing five-over 77.
Irishman Paul McGinley, who famously holed the putt to win the Ryder Cup for Europe in 2002, was one of those tied with Scott at one under on a gruelling morning.
McGinley grimaced as he stepped into the scorer's hut, but insisted he was happy with his round.
"I think exhausted is the word," he said. "You know, five and a half hours in that wind and up and down hills."
Most players found control into the greens difficult in the conditions and Scott was no exception.
"With so much elevation change it's crucial to control your shots off the tee and I did that well today," he said.