PGA Tour

Scott off to flyer at Bay Hill

2014-03-20 20:32
Adam Scott (AFP)

Orlando - Reigning Masters champion Adam Scott of Australia has matched the Bay Hill course record with a 10-under par 62 on Thursday to seize command at the US PGA Arnold Palmer Invitational.

World number two Scott, hot on the heels of top-ranked Tiger Woods just three weeks before defending his Masters crown at Augusta National, fired seven birdies, two eagles and a bogey.

That was level for the course record set by American Andy Bean in 1981 and matched by Aussie Greg Norman in 1984.

And Scott had not played at Bay Hill since 2009.

With uncanny long-range putting, Scott produced the best opening round in Bay Hill history, two strokes better than the prior mark that was achieved 11 times, the first of them by tournament namesake Palmer himself in 1970.

Scott, 33, last opened an event with a 62 at the 2011 World Golf Championships event at Firestone Country Club, where he won by four shots.

Scott's closest rivals, also in the clubhouse with much of the field still on the course, were Spain's Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, who fired a 66, and England's Paul Casey and Americans Brandt Snedeker and Morgan Hoffmann, all on 67.

Starting off the 10th tee, Scott opened with a 19-foot birdie putt then reached a greenside bunker at the par-5 12th in two and went up and down from four feet for another birdie.

A 26-foot birdie putt at the par-3 14th was followed by a 28-foot birdie putt at the par-4 15th and his first eagle at the par-5 16th when Scott reached the green in two and sank a 36-foot putt.

Scott suffered his lone bogey at the par-4 18th, finding the left rough off the tee and with his second shot and then running a 29-foot par putt two feet beyond the cup.

Scott responded with a nine-foot birdie putt at the third and eagled the par-5 fourth, reaching the green in two and sinking a 19-foot putt.

Back-to-back birdies on the par-5 sixth, getting up and down from a greenside bunker thanks to an eight-foot putt, and par-3 seventh, on a 13-foot putt, were followed with two pars.

Scott could have set the course record but missed a nine-foot birdie putt at the eighth.

Former Masters champion Bubba Watson withdrew from the event after the first round, citing allergy issues.

"My allergies have taken over!" Watson posted on Twitter.

"It's hard to focus when you're heads all discombobulated from medicine and pollen."

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