Adam Scott starts strong at Safeway Open, shares lead in quest to end drought

Eric Risberg/AP

Adam Scott starts strong at Safeway Open, shares lead in quest to end drought

PGA Tour

Adam Scott starts strong at Safeway Open, shares lead in quest to end drought

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Adam Scott had two ways to look at his work last season.

On the one hand, he performed at a level worthy of his world ranking of No. 15, with nine top-10 finishes in 18 starts, including runner-up finishes in the Farmers Insurance Open and Memorial. He closed his season with three consecutive top-10s in the three events of the FedExCup Playoffs.

On the other hand, he didn’t win.

That’s what stays on his mind these days. The winner of 29 events as a pro – 13 on the PGA Tour, including the 2013 Masters – hasn’t won anywhere around the world since he went back-to-back in Florida in 2016 in the Honda Classic and the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship.

Safeway Open: Leaderboard | Photos | Tee times
More: Tony Romo shoots 70, his lowest PGA Tour round

On Thursday, however, he took a formidable first step to purging his winless thoughts from his brain. With a 7-under-par 65 in the first round of the Safeway Open, the third tournament of the 2019-20 season, Scott occupied the top spot on the leaderboard in Napa, California for most of Thursday. He was later tied by Andrew Landry.

On the North Course at Silverado Resort & Spa, Scott offset one bogey with six birdies and an eagle from more than 50 feet on the par-5 fifth in his season debut. He stood one shot ahead of Francesco Molinari and Matthew NeSmith among the early finishers. Two shots back at 67 was Cameron Champ Adam Long and Chris Baker. Among a handful of players at 68 was Bryson DeChambeau.

Tony Romo, playing on a sponsor exemption, shot 70, by far his best round on the PGA Tour.

Scott, 39, says the North Course reminds him of his homeland of Australia. “I really enjoy this kind of tighter, smaller-style courses,” Scott said. “We often play big, open, modern resort-style courses. If I was to pick where to play socially, this is the kind of course I would play.

“And a lot of the holes remind me of a lot of golf in areas of Australia, too, with the big trees. I know they’re oaks here, but there’s some eucalyptus around this area. Looks similar to Australia, so I feel quite comfortable out there.”

Ahead of the tournament, Scott spoke to the satisfaction he took from last season because he improved his play from the season before. He emphasized his frustration with putting himself in position to add Tour win No. 14 but falling short of getting the job done.

He added that he just has to find “that little something, that edge to kind of get me over the line, get a trophy back in my hands.”

His strong first round has him in position again.

“It was the slow starts that cost me” last season, Scott said. “I was kind of flying in on the weekends, but I wasn’t right there. So this is a nice way to start. I would like to have a lead going into Sunday and see what I can produce, to be honest, because I’ve been four and five back and I have a good front nine and then you’re in the mix. It’s a lot to ask all the time when you’re as far behind as I kind of was.”

The eagle on the fifth, set up by a strong drive and a solid 4-iron to the green, was Scott’s biggest moment. The successful 53-footer for eagle was his best putt of the day but he putted well throughout the round.

“Fun way to kind of keep the momentum going and get the most out of the round,” Scott said of the eagle. “If I had complaints about last season, I didn’t get the most out of my good rounds or my good weeks. Today felt like I kind of got the most out of myself.

“I’ve been putting really nicely this whole year. I really haven’t fiddled with it since the Tour Championship and just kind of keep the routine going and the rhythm. I’ve been rolling some long ones in, which is obviously very helpful no matter what they’re for, par or birdie or eagle. But I felt really solid on the greens, so I’m just going to try and keep that going.”

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