Sport

Scott and his putter are back

by
May 12, 2018

Adam Scott of Australia hits his second shot on the fourteenth hole in the first round of THE PLAYERS Championship golf tournament on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, USA, 10 May 2018. The tournament runs 10 May to 13 May. EPA/TANNEN MAURY

Adam Scott has wrestled his putter out of the doldrums to join countryman Jason Day in the mix after day one at the Players Championship.

Entering golf’s unofficial fifth major ranked a lowly 193rd on the greens on the US PGA Tour, Scott’s recent switch to a broomstick putter paid dividends during his best round in two months.

Scott, the 2004 Players winner, posted a three-under-par 69 before Day matched the score and the big-name Australian duo sit just three shots back of a six-way tie for the lead at TPC Sawgrass.

World No.1 Dustin Johnson fired a 66 and headlines the group, topping the leaderboard with Webb Simpson, Alex Noren, Chesson Hadley, Patrick Cantlay and 2012 winner Matt Kuchar.

Defending champion Si Woo Kim (67) is among six players sharing seventh a shot back at five under.

With 27 putts, Scott ranked 17th for strokes gained in putting on day one on Sawgrass’ devilishly tricky greens, highlighted by a 50-foot par putt he drained early in the round to maintain momentum.

‘‘I made a couple of long putts that felt good and I made most of the short ones, which were huge ... because it’s so easy to drop a shot around here,’’ Scott said.

Soctt, 37, mixed five birdies with two bogeys for his first round in the 60s on the US Tour since day three of the Valspar Championship in March.

‘‘Well, absolutely,’’ Scott said when asked if the switch to the long putter was validated.

‘‘Just to make (putting) a little easier when (I have) been struggling for any kind of momentum, which has been frustrating.’’

World No.7 Day, whose victory at last week’s Wells Fargo Championship was his second US Tour title of the year, picked up six birdies.

But the 2016 Players winner showed signs of fatigue with three sloppy bogeys, two of which came from prime positions in the fairway.

‘‘My driving was nice; I hit 11 (of 14) fairways but I just need to tidy up with the wedges and irons,’’ Day, who hit 12 of 18 greens in regulation, said.

‘‘Fingers crossed there’s no wind in the morning and I can go out and make a hot run early.’’

Day’s countryman Marc Leishman was two shots back at one under after a bogey at the difficult par-4 18th gave the Victorian a 71.

‘‘I don’t know how people shoot in the 60s around here because it’s so tough,’’ Leishman said.

However, the rest of the Australian contingent struggled, with Rod Pampling (74), Cameron Smith (76) and Geoff Ogilvy (78) leaving themselves plenty of work to make the 36-hole cut.

Tiger Woods posted an even par 72.

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