Masters 2014: Adam Scott hopes to dominate weekend after his solid start

 

Augusta National

For some, the burden of defending a championship can be overwhelming. For Adam Scott, it was pure joy – at least for a day.

With a Green Jacket already in his collection, Scott felt a sense of calm that carried over to the golf course. The result: a three-under 69 that got the laid-back Australian off to just the kind of start he was looking for at the Masters. Now, to keep it going for three more days.

“Having won last year, in some ways, has taken a little pressure off me,” Scott said. “I kind of felt like what was the worst that can happen? I’m still going to be a Masters champion.”

Scott was clearly the most compelling figure on day one of a Masters marked by the absence of Tiger Woods, sitting it out for the first time in his career after undergoing back surgery.

Golf has been waiting for a star to take control all year, and Scott turned in a rock-solid round that was marred only by a double bogey in the middle of Amen Corner, the one time he let the significance of being a major champion get to him.

A huge roar went up as Scott strolled from the 11th green to the 12th tee. Caught up in the moment, he promptly dumped his tee shot in Rae’s Creek, the first time that has happened in his career. Otherwise, he had no complaints.

“Getting off to a good start in a major is huge,” Scott said. “They are the hardest tournaments to chase. Birdies aren’t that easy to come by usually at the majors, and if you’re six back, five back, 10 back after that first round, it’s a hard three days in front of you.”

That doesn’t bode well for Phil Mickelson, the American who had two sevens on his card and finished with a 76 – eight shots off the lead. Not exactly the kind of start “Lefty” was hoping for in pursuit of his fourth Green Jacket. No one has ever come back to win at Augusta from more than seven shots behind after the opening round.

“I was really off,” said Mickelson, who blamed his score on mental lapses rather than anything in his swing. “It was very disappointing.”

Bill Haas, the son of the longtime PGA Tour stalwart Jay Haas, broke 70 for the first time in five Masters appearances, and he has his father helping him every step of the way. They are staying together in Augusta, and Haas senior is out on the range every day, passing on any helpful hints to his son.

Haas’s performance was especially poignant, given his father played the Masters 22 times and never finished higher than a tie for third in 1995. In fact, the elder Haas never won a major despite a long, successful career. Maybe his boy can take care of that little blemish.

“He deserved a major in his career,” Bill Haas said. “He was working his tail off to try to win those things.”

Bubba Watson, who slipped that Green Jacket on Scott last year, played his first bogey-free round in a major since the 2009 US Open. Louis Oosthuizen was the only other player in the 60s – it was the fewest number of players to break 70 in an opening round at the Masters since 2007. The greens were just getting firmer by the hour.

Mickelson and the other reigning major champions paid the price. PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner took a quadruple-bogey nine on the 13th hole and wound up with an 80. US Open champion Justin Rose shot 40 on the front and scrambled for a 76, matching Mickelson.

Jimmy Walker, Kevin Stadler and Jonas Blixt – among the record 24 newcomers to the Masters – were in the group at 70. The group at 71 included 20-year-old Jordan Spieth and 54-year-old Fred Couples, and a former No 1 in Rory McIlroy.

Haas knows better than to put too much stock into what happens on a Thursday. He was leading after the opening round in Houston last week and tied for 37th. Only one first-round leader in the last 30 years has gone on to win the Masters. “There’s tons of golf left,” Haas said.

Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
The Pipes and Drums of The Scottish Regiments perform during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park on July 23, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Commonwealth GamesThe actor encouraged the one billion viewers of the event to donate to the children's charity
Sport
Karen Dunbar performs
Entertainers showcase local wit, talent and irrepressible spirit
Sport
Members of the Scotland deleagtion walk past during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game