Wentworth, England: Adam Scott was pondering if it was worth playing tournament golf on spectator-free courses this time last year, with his game suffering accordingly. But on Wentworth’s West Course in front of an appreciative crowd on Thursday he showed his renewed appetite for the game and improved form to shoot a seven-under 65 in the first round of the BMW PGA Championship.
It left the Australian high up the leaderboard, one shot behind the early clubhouse leader Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand, who had an eight-under 64 on a cool, still morning following a hot spell earlier in the week.
Scott, who had slipped from No.6 in the world in August 2020 and got as low as No.43 this time last month, had showed some semblance of form at the Wyndham in the US, where he finished tied-second after a play-off, and looks to have brought the feel-good factor back with him as he seeks a 12th win on the European Tour.
The Australian, now the world No.39, gave himself birdie chances at the first three holes, taking the one at the 2nd after hitting his tee shot at the par three to around six inches and leaving the ball adjacent to the hole from eight and 12 feet respectively with the other two.
He picked up another at the par-five 4th, where his long eagle putt finished three feet past the hole. He completed the formality to move to two under before getting lucky with a wayward tee shot at the 6th which hit the trees high on the right of the fairway but returned his ball to the rough from where he found the front of the green and two-putted. He picked up shots at the 7th and 9th too, the latter with a 30-footer to turn at four under.
His approach shot to the par-five 12th got lucky too, landing short, high and right of the green, kicking over the first bunker and falling into a decent flat lie in the second one and 15 yards from the hole. His chip to two feet yielded another birdie.
Scott chipped in wonderfully from 30 yards in front of the green for birdie at the 15th. His good fortune ran out when he hit a relatively straightforward second shot into the 16th green but ended up high on the bank at the back and could only get it to 30 feet and two-putt to return to five-under.
It was his only blemish as he made birdie at the 17th with a neat five-footer and almost holed a 100-yard lob wedge approach at the last for eagle, instead tapping in from three feet for a four and a total of seven under.