|Tiger Woods walks off the 13th tee during the first round of the British Open in northern England on Thursday, July 19, 2012. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)
LYTHAM ST. ANNES, ENGLAND - It is not uncommon having some sort of revelation in the process of visiting, as they say here, "the loo." So it was early Thursday afternoon as Aussie Adam Scott, taking advantage of a defenceless Royal Lytham & St. Annes course at the British Open during an uncharacteristically windless morning, flirted with a record.
With no wind and soggy conditions, Lytham had both hands tied behind her back and Scott was at the top of the list of marquee guys taking advantage to make it an attractive leader board after Day 1. He was 7-under par through 16 holes and needed to play the last two holes 1-under for a 62 and the lowest round in British Open history.
"Yeah, I know there's never been a 62 and I was waiting to use the bathroom going to the 17th tee and I did a look at the leaderboard and realized it was a par-70," said Scott, the 31-year-old in search of his first major championship.
"And I also probably then realized that I wasn't going to be the guy to shoot 62. It's one of those things that you don't want to go through your mind, thinking about your final score and stuff like that. So I got rid of that quickly and got on to playing the 17th, but unfortunately dropped one up the last." After parring 17 following his pit stop, Scott's chances of making history went down the toilet when he pulled his 2-iron tee shot on 18 into the left rough, hacked it out and wound up making a bogey for a 64.
He was one ahead of the '99 Open winner Paul Lawrie of Scotland -- remember him? -- who holed shots three times from off the green in the first six holes Thursday, American Zach Johnson, coming off his win on the weekend at the John Deere Classic, and Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts, who had a shot at winning the U.S. Open last month and was the best player in the afternoon draw, when conditions were slightly less friendly. Brandt Snedeker of the U.S. was at 66.
How easy was Lytham? There were 43 rounds of par-70 or better. There wasn't a score worse than 79.
Tiger Woods, bidding for his 15th major championship, got off to a quick start in the benign conditions, recording four birdies in his first seven holes, but cooled after that.
After seven pars, Woods found a nasty lie in the rough on the 15th hole and made bogey to fall three shots off the pace at 67. That left him in a marquee group with major winners Ernie Els, Graeme McDowell, Bubba Watson and Rory McIlroy, whose day included beaning a kid on the 15th hole. Also at 67 was Japan's Toshinori Muto, who is looking to make his first cut in his third Open, American Steve Stricker and Sweden's Peter Hanson.
Scott, looking for his victory in a major, had eight birdies and two bogeys as he set his personal record for lowest round in a major by two strokes. He had a 66 in the final round of this year's Masters.
"Very pleased with the start, obviously," he said. "It's nice just to take advantage of the calm conditions today. It was surprising but very pleasing to go out and play some solid golf. It's what I haven't done the first rounds of the majors this year and that was my goal here, really, starting the week, was to play today like it was Sunday and there was no tomorrow.
"I did a good job of that, and now I've got my work cut out for me the next couple of days to keep myself in a similar kind of position." Scott is in a group of players -- Englishmen Luke Donald, Lee Westwood and Paul Casey are be others -- who you figure would have won a major by now.
Westwood got off to a quick start, but faded to 73. Donald had an even-par 70. Casey, who's been battling injuries, had a 72.
That's not exactly flushed with success.