By Ron Sirak
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Is it too early to note than only three players have won back-to-back Masters? And that those guys -- Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods -- combined to stuff 13 green jackets into closets? Adam Scott thinks so, but people keep reminding him of it anyway.
And the way he played in Thursday's first round did nothing to dampen that talk. The Aussie made five birdies and one double bogey on his way to a three-under-par 69, a single stroke behind leader Bill Haas.
"Getting off to a good start in major is huge, because I think they are the hardest tournaments to kind of chase," Scott said. "You almost have to play flawless. So to get off to a good start is key." And that good start had folks reminding Scott about history. Nicklaus won consecutive Masters in 1965-66, Faldo turned the trick in 1989-90 and Woods did it in 2001-02.
"I'm not going to complain about my round, but it's disappointing to threeâputt them both," he said. "I feel like I'm playing really well. More importantly was the par save on 18 (when he made up-and-down from behind the green). I felt like I played good enough to shoot in the 60s today, so that was a nice way to end the day and not walk off shooting 70."
The only mistake Scott made came on No. 12 when he hit a 9-iron into the water and made a double bogey. But the short-but-tricky par 3 was difficult for everyone as it played as the second-hardest hole on the course in the opening round.
"It's just that back right pin spot," he said. "It was so little wind, it was probably a problem today, rather than when it's blowing all kinds of directions. I just lost a little focus on that shot and didn't commit fully it and you paid a price on that one. Like I said, the only weak shot I hit, and it's actually the first time I think I've ever hit it in that creek." All in all, a good start for the guy who did what Greg Norman couldn't do and became the first Australian to win the Masters. After a busy week in which he hosted the past champions dinner Tuesday and picked up the Male Player of the Year Award from the Golf Writers Association of America on Wednesday, Scott finally was able to tee it up in earnest. And he played like a champion, maybe even one ready to defend his title.