GOLD COAST, Australia (AP) — After slow starts in his past two tournaments, Adam Scott wanted to play the first round of the Australian PGA Championship like it was his last.
For the first time on this trip Down Under, he’s in the red after the first round. The 2013 champion closed with three birdies for a 4-under 68 at Royal Pines Resort on Thursday and was three shots behind early leader Andrew Dodt, who opened with a 65.
“It’s the last week of the year. There’s no ‘I’ll get them next week’ – (I) just have to make it count,” Scott said. “It didn’t look pretty at the start but somehow I was 2-under after 3 and then hung in there and finished well. Maybe that momentum off the last three holes is something to carry over for the rest of the week.”
Half the groups hadn’t completed their first rounds when play was suspended because of lightning during the afternoon. Heavy rain prevented any further play, with the first round expected to be completed Friday.
American player Julian Suri, who missed out by one stroke on getting a full card on the European Tour last month, and Ryan Fox of New Zealand had a share of second at 5 under after opening with 67s.
Scott has had his frustrations on this trip back to Australia, where he’s planning on taking a vacation from next week. He opened with a 73 at the Australian Open in Sydney last month and finished the tournament six shots behind Jordan Spieth, who won in a playoff.
At the World Cup of Golf last weekend in Melbourne, Scott and Australian teammate Marc Leishman carded a 74 in an opening round that contained just one birdie.
On Thursday, Scott eagled the par-5 12th – his third hole – followed by a bogey at the 18th, before he turned and then finished with the three birdies.
“A quick start and a quick finish adds up to a good score,” said Scott, who won the Australian PGA Championship in 2013 and was runner-up the following year after a marathon playoff with Greg Chalmers. “I was just treading water for a while … cautious of going over the green in between clubs.
“You just have to be patient and it paid off, because I birdied the last three.”
Joining Scott at 4 under were Paul Waring of England, who was leading early before bogeys on two of his last five holes, and Natipong Srithong of Thailand.
Jarrod Lyle produced the shot of the day with a hole-in-one on the 169-meter par-3 fifth. He was 3 under through 13 holes before play was suspended.
“I wouldn’t say it was the perfect shot,” Lyle told the host broadcaster. “It was a little bit thin but it worked out all right.”