World No. 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 yesterday.
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 yesterday, 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 No. 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 No. 3, 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 No. 45, who only returned to playing last month, after dislocating his shoulder snowboarding in the winter.
Scott’s finishing flourish left the Australian pleased with his day’s work.
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 grueling morning.
McGinley grimaced as he stepped into the scorer’s hut, but insisted he was happy with his round.
Most players found control into the greens difficult in the conditions and Scott was no exception.
Taiwan’s Kao Shang-hung scored a 72, Lin Wen-tang scored a four-over 76, Wei Chih-lu scored a five-over 77 and Chan Yih-shin scored a 10-over 82.
Additional reporting by staff writer