Masters champion Adam Scott finally found the going a little rough. After winning the last two consecutive tournaments in his triumphant return to the Land Down Under, he posted an uncharacteristic four-over 75 in the first round and is near the bottom of the 60-man field at the World Cup of Golf.
Just last week, Scott shot rounds of 67-66-66-71 to get to 14 under par and finish two shots clear of Matt Kuchar to win the Talisker Masters on this very same Royal Melbourne golf course.
Royal Melbourne was not as kind to Scott in the first round of the World Cup on Thursday. With one bogey and two birdies on his card, he turned the front nine at one-under 34. He followed with pars at Nos. 10 and 11, but experienced a slight hiccup at the par-four No. 12.
He pushed his drive far right into some bushes bordering the right rough. A lost ball ensued and Scott was forced to re-tee. The second drive (third shot) was a repeat of his prior effort. He was now lying four with the driver still in his hand.
His third drive from the No. 12 tee box found the fairway, but Scott now was lying five on the par-four hole. His iron shot (sixth shot) hit the middle of the green, but the firm, fast and domed green allowed the ball to trickle over the back, down into a low area, and come to rest some 15 yards away from the flagstick.
Famed golf course architect Dr. Alister MacKenzie designed Royal Melbourne. The West Course opened for play in 1931, and it is always rated among the 10 best golf courses in the world.
Melbourne sits on a sand belt in the far southeastern portion of Australia. MacKenzie’s design called for generous fairways without substantial rough, but his signature provides for severely undulating greens and deep bunkers that can challenge even the most talented golfer.
Scott now faced a difficult pitch shot up a steep slope to a very firm and fast green that was sloping away from him for his seventh shot.
His chip (seventh shot) finally came to rest 20 feet from the hole. He missed the first putt and tapped in for his five-over-par nine.
He bounced back with a birdie at No. 13, but a bogey at the par-five No. 15 left him at five over par for the back nine and four over par for the round.
Scott and fellow Aussie Jason Day are teamed up this week for the World Cup and were the clear favorites to win, especially after Scott’s performance over the last two weeks.
Day turned in a solid three-under-par 68, which left him alone in sixth place just two shots behind the leaders, Thomas Bjorn and Kevin Streelman.
K.J. Choi, Martin Laird and Stuart Manley are tied for third at four under par.
This is a four-day, 72-hole tournament and Scott has 54 more holes to dig himself and his team out of a very deep hole.