WHAT Adam Scott would have given at Lytham in July for the finish he produced in China yesterday. In danger of being remembered for a long time for bogeying the last four holes of The Open when four strokes clear, the 32-year-old Australian this time played his last three holes in the HSBC Champions at Mission Hills in four under par.
That gave Scott a seven-under 65 and a share of the first-round lead with South African Louis Oosthuizen – winner of The Open in 2010, but also with some major disappointment this season after losing a play-off for The Masters to Bubba Watson in April.
“It was a solid day that all of a sudden turned into a really good day,” said Scott, who two-putted the long seventh, saw his tee shot to the eighth roll back down a slope to within a foot of the hole and then made a 10-footer for eagle at the 573-yard ninth.
“With five par-5s it sets up well for my game and the plan is to just take advantage of them and hopefully hang in there with the leaders all week.”
Having climbed the world rankings again – he is currently sixth – since switching to a long putter Scott was inevitably asked about the possible banning of the club. A statement is expected from golf’s governing bodies in the next few months and Scott stated: “What’s their criteria for having a look at it? No-one’s given me a good reason yet.
“I’d still be surprised if they could completely outlaw anchoring putting, but you’d have to deal with that if it were to be brought in.
“For me personally I don’t feel it’s as big a deal maybe as for some others. I’ve played at a high level with both styles of putting.
“If you look at the stats this year, it doesn’t say I’m putting that much better but I enjoy playing golf with the long one. You have to read the green and you have to hit it at the right speed. All of putting is still a learned skill no matter what way you do it.”
Oosthuizen has finished fourth and sixth on his last two starts and did not drop a stroke in his 65.
“I don’t think I saw a really low number out there,” he said, “but once you look at the leaderboard and see the guys are firing it up, all of a sudden you started seeing birdies.
“I made five birdies on the par fives and that got the round going. I hit a few bad iron shots, but made good up-and-downs for pars.
“You need to make putts. I’ve made a few nice ones today and that’s normally the thing I struggle with.”
Paul Lawrie opened with a three-under 69 to sit in joint 16th, one ahead of Open champion Ernie Els and England’s Lee Westwood. “It was a good effort considering I struggled again with my rhythm and ball striking,” said the Aberdonian.
Richie Ramsay, 63rd in last week’s BMW Masters, slumped to a six-over 78 – he started with a double-bogey six – to sit 72nd in the 78-strong field.