Adam Scott shoots 64, leads British Open
GalleriesBritish Open 2012
LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England -- When the U.S. basketball team arrived for the Olympics, there was frequent use of the words "Dream Team'' in the British papers. That phrase also would be a proper description of the leader board after Thursday's first round of the 141st British Open.
Adam Scott is on top after a 6-under-par 64, and though he hasn't won a major, most of the players close behind him have. Tied for second with 65s were Paul Lawrie (who took the 1999 British that Jean Van de Velde gave away), Zach Johnson (2007 Masters) and the Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts.
Brandt Snedeker was at 66, while Ernie Els (three majors), Bubba Watson ('12 Masters), Graeme McDowell ('10 U.S. Open), Tiger Woods (14 majors) and Rory McIlroy ('11 U.S. Open) were among those at 67.
Royal Lytham & St. Annes, nicknamed "The Beast'' back in the 1930s, was anything but. There was a bit of rain but very little wind, and without elements, even a course with 206 bunkers and heavy rough proves beatable.
"After all the chat about conditions and how difficult the course is, and how much wind there was going to be,'' said McDowell, who won his U.S. Open in 2010 at Pebble Beach, "it was kind of weird. Standing there on the ninth tee box, looking around in shirt sleeves at guys being four, five, six under par.
"It was a pretty benign start to the week.''
It was a pretty impressive start for Scott, the Aussie. At the 17th tee, he was 7 under and realized he could set a record for the lowest score ever in a major. "I had to block that out,'' he said.
Twenty-five times in majors players have shot 63. No one has had a 62, which was attainable by Scott with two birdies. But he parred 17 and, after driving into the left rough, bogeyed 18.
"My ball striking is pretty good at the moment,'' said Scott, who turned 32 on Monday. "It can stand up to a pretty stern test over the weekend.''
Woods birdied four of the first seven holes, but he started missing putts after that and finished with a bogey and 10 pars in his last 11 holes. The good news for Tiger and his 67 is in each of his three Open wins he broke 70 the first round.
Asked if Royal Lytham were as easy as any of the two-plus Opens he'd played here, Woods quickly answered, "It was. It was pretty soft. The wind wasn't blowing, and we were backing golf balls up. That's something we just don't see.''
Johnson, who won the John Deere Classic in Illinois Sunday and didn't arrive in England until Monday, said, "You hit good shots, you get good results.'' One over through three, Johnson got to 6 under after 16.
Tom Watson, now 62 years old, shot 71, the same as PGA champion Keegan Bradley. Phil Mickelson was at 73 and defending champ Darren Clarke 76. Recent U.S. Open winner Webb Simpson is not here, awaiting the birth of his second child.