POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Jul 1, 2011
NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. » Adam Scott must have felt as though he got another crack at the U.S. Open on Thursday in the AT&T National. Only this course felt more like a U.S. Open.
Aronimink built on its growing reputation when only 28 players managed to break par in the opening round despite warm sunshine and a mild breeze. Scott and Hunter Haas, who were tied atop the leaderboard at 4-under 66, followed a U.S. Open formula by trying to keep the ball in play off the tee and being cautious on the greens.
Right behind them was former Kaneohe resident Dean Wilson, who is tied with three other golfers after shooting a 3-under 67.
Wilson carded eight pars and an eagle at the par-5 16th. After bogeying the first hole on his back nine, the Castle High product birdied the par-4 third and sixth holes.
The 42-year old Las Vegas resident has struggled this year, making the cut only seven times in 16 events. He has still earned $309,024 and is 133rd in FedEx Cup points.
Wilson seized his opportunities on the difficult course, as did Scott.
“It’s a great golf course, obviously, but in great shape,” Scott said. “But they’ve set the course up beautifully. The greens are perfect and they’ve got very generous fairways, but severe rough, which is a nice balance. There are good scores out there, but you have to play well.”
The U.S. Open became a talking point because of how hard players had to work for their scores on a course with firm fairways, fast greens and several diabolical hole locations. The average score was about 71.5, and all but four of the holes played over par.
Rain softened the course at Congressional two weeks ago, and while Rory McIlroy turned in a command performance with a record 16-under 268, the 20 scores under par at the end of the week were unusual for a U.S. Open.
“They obviously didn’t the get the greens where they really would have liked them,” said Scott, who missed the cut by one shot at Congressional. “And here, I think they’ve got the greens probably where the U.S. Open would have liked them on a Thursday.”
Scott holed birdie putts of 20 feet and 25 feet early in his round, and finished with a 15-foot par save on the 17th and another 15-footer for birdie on the 18th. His lone bogey came on a three-putt from the fringe on the difficult 10th, and he called it a “stress-free” round.
The 30-year-old Australian wasn’t even planning to play the AT&T National, but felt his game was in decent shape and that he could use another start. So he lined up Tiger Woods’ caddie, Steve Williams, for another week of work. This time, they figure to stick around a little longer.
England’s Graeme Storm and Australia’s Richard Green shot 6-under 65s to share the first-round lead in the French Open.
South Africa’s George Coetzee, England’s James Morrison and Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen were a stroke back on Le Golf National’s Albatross Course.
Defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain and German star Martin Kaymer were in contention at 71. American Bubba Watson opened with a 74.