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'Other guy' Scott happy with opening round in U.S. Open

Photo: John Biever/SI

Adam Scott is playing with a broken hand.

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The "other guy" in the marquee threesome was happy with his opening round in the U.S. Open, considering he's playing with a broken bone near his right pinkie.

Australian Adam Scott, ranked No. 3 in the world, shot a 2-over 73 at Torrey Pines' South Course on Thursday. His playing partners were Tiger Woods, who shot a 72, and Phil Mickelson, who had a 71. Woods and Mickelson are ranked 1-2.

Scott's injury was the top topic after his round in front of a huge gallery at the clifftop course overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

"Well, it's broken," he said. "It's not my finger anyway; it's my hand. It doesn't really affect my golf swing, so I'm pretty lucky to be playing."

Scott, a six-time winner on the PGA Tour, said he broke the bone when a friend slammed his hand in a car door in London in mid-May.

"It's pretty miserable," he said.

Scott had to balance resting the hand and doing exercises to keep his strength.

"Obviously it hasn't healed yet. It's only been a couple weeks since I broke it. But it's strong enough to where I can play and it's improved a lot in the last five days since I got here. So it's been no problem."

His grip is one reason he's able to play.

"I overlap, fortunately, because I wouldn't have been able to play if I interlock. It would have been too much stress on it."

Scott enjoyed being part of the featured threesome, which will play together again on Friday afternoon.

"I played with Phil a lot in majors," Scott said. "It seems like I get drawn with him a lot. But I enjoy playing with Tiger as well. I find it a lot easier to focus because I think I've got to be a little more disciplined. And I felt like I played really well out there today and I really didn't make any putts."

OH NO, ANGEL: Angel Cabrera opened the defense of his Open title with a thud. He was 9-over through 12 and didn't make his first birdie until the par-5 13th.

REMEMBERING DUPLANTIS: When he reached the part of Torrey Pines' South Course that is closest to the Pacific Ocean, Eric Axley couldn't help but think of his former caddie, Steve Duplantis.

Axley was playing Torrey Pines for the first time since Duplantis was killed when he was hit by a car in nearby Del Mar just before the Buick Invitational in January.

"Kind of walking along the water there and looking out, I did think about him some," Axley said.

Axley also shot his best round in his four U.S. Open appearances, a 2-under 69 highlighted by an eagle.

Duplantis, a free spirit who was a popular PGA Tour caddie, was killed early on Jan. 23 when he stepped off a center median and into the path of a taxi a day before the Buick started.

"Anyone that's lost someone that's close to them knows what it's like. He was a good friend and good person and had a huge heart," Axley said. "It was tough out there today when I started thinking about it, but I also have to play golf. He was with me out there."

After missing the cut in his previous four Opens, Axley shot a 34-35 Thursday.

"I think it's more I'm just playing a little better now. In previous Opens, I think I would say I got a little jittery and a little out of my game a little bit, but I feel really comfortable over the ball right now. I think it was just more I'm swinging better."

Axley eagled the par-5 18th, the hole known for Devlin's Billabong, the big pond that fronts the green.

JUNIOR CHARITY: The San Diego County Junior Golf Association, which helped develop players such as Phil Mickelson, Scott Simpson, Craig Stadler and Pat Perez, hopes to get a bit of financial relief from the Scoresheets for Charities Program at the U.S. Open.

The group had hoped to raise up to $500,000 from a gala Saturday night that was to be hosted by Jay Leno on the USS Midway, which is anchored in San Diego Bay as a museum. But the group canceled it a few weeks ago due to lack of ticket sales.

Casey Dillabaugh, the SDJGA's charity programs coordinator, said the group would be happy if it can make between $25,000 and $30,000 by auctioning off the scoresheets and round-by-round summary sheets that are posted on the public scoreboard and on a scoreboard in the media center.

"It will help alleviate the pain of that a little bit, but we're still going to take a hit," Dillabaugh said Thursday.

The SDJGA had already been chosen for the Scoresheets for Charities Program before the gala was canceled. The scoresheets and summary sheets, done in an artistic rendering, are coveted souvenirs.

Bidding via silent auction opened Thursday morning and will close 30 minutes after play concludes on Sunday. Bidding can be done at the public scoreboard at Torrey Pines or by printing a sheet from the group's Web site, www.sdjga.org, and faxing it in.

YANI SIGHTING: As if the massive gallery following Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson didn't have enough to cheer, another major champion joined the 18-hole walk at Torrey Pines - Yani Tseng, the 19-year-old rookie from Taiwan who won the LPGA Championship on Sunday and found plenty of friends.

A dozen fans called out her name as she walked by, and Tseng politely smiled and waved.

She was tagging along with Dottie Pepper, a former LPGA player who now works for NBC Sports. Tseng is a friend of an assistant pro at Torrey Pines, and she won the Junior World in San Diego during her polished junior career.

Tseng said Woods was one of her golfing idols when she was growing up, but Pepper said the rookie found another player to cheer.

"She loves Adam Scott," Pepper said. "She couldn't stop talking about him."

Tseng had to leave after the opening round to return to practice. She is playing next week on the LPGA Tour, then goes to Minnesota for the U.S. Women's Open.

OW: Brett Wetterich withdrew from the Open with a wrist injury and was replaced by alternate Andrew Svoboda of New Rochelle, N.Y., playing in his second Open. ... Brett Quigley has shin splints but wasn't using them as an excuse for his 2-over 73. "It's the U.S. Open," he said. "There's no way I wasn't going to play. Probably any other tournament, I wouldn't have played. But the U.S. Open there's no way."

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