Scott Shares Early Lead in Houston

By Associated PressApril 3, 2008, 4:00 pm
2007 Shell Houston OpenHOUSTON -- Adam Scott went straight to the clubhouse for medical treatment after his first round at the Houston Open.
Imagine what he wouldve shot if he was healthy.
The defending champion took advantage of placid early conditions to shoot a course-record 9-under 63 on Thursday, his third straight spectacular round at the Tournament Course at Redstone.
Johnson Wagner matched Scotts 63 late in the day. The Amarillo, Texas, native also shared the first-round lead last year and shared the previous course record (64) with Bubba Watson.
Charley Hoffman was two behind the leaders after a 65 and Steve Stricker was three back. Phil Mickelson, one of several top players using Houston as a tuneup for next weeks Masters, shot a 72 in the afternoon, when blustery wind produced higher scores.
Scott was too ill to worry about the weather, suffering since he arrived in Houston with a fever and swollen glands around his throat. He struggled to get out of bed before his tee time and visited a doctor after his round.
In between, he was practically flawless, reaching 17 of 18 greens in regulation and needing only 28 putts.
I was just about conserving energy and thought about hitting the fairway and hitting the green and not having to work too hard, he said. Fortunately, thats kind of how today went. I need to keep going that way.
If only he could feel this sick'and play this well'at Augusta.
Id like to stay like this for about another two weeks, he joked. Maybe I shouldnt get the antibiotics.
Redstone seems to be tonic enough.
Scott was 22 under in his last 54 holes at Redstone and hasnt made a bogey since the 18th hole of his second round last year. He shot 65-66 on the weekend to earn a three-shot victory.
I feel really comfortable on this golf course, Scott said. A lot of the shots really fit my eye. I feel like I know where to hit it.
Last year, Scott became the sixth Australian to win the Houston Open and the second straight on this course, following Stuart Appleby in 2006. Appleby, the runner-up last year, shot a 70 on Thursday.
Starting on the back nine, Scott made a 55-foot birdie putt on his first hole, then added birdies on 12, 13 and 15. He holed a 10-foot birdie putt on the tough 18th to finish at 6-under 30, missing the tournaments nine-hole record by one shot.
I didnt start the day out feeling like I was playing great, Scott said. But certainly, as the round went on and the more birdies I made, the confidence came and the swings became better.
The wind was gusting by the middle of Scotts round, but he didnt seem to mind. He birdied Nos. 4 and 5 for the third straight round at Redstone, then made a 28-foot putt on the par-5 eighth.
Scott two-putted for par on his last hole to beat the course record set by Wagner and Watson in last years third round. Scott and Wagner missed the tournament record by a stroke.
Wagner has missed six cuts in nine starts this year, his second on the tour, but his average score in five rounds at Redstone is 68.2.
I dont think Ive ever held another course record anywhere other than this place, he said.
Wagner teed off long after Scott was finished. He noticed immediately that his course record was history.
Walking down our first hole, I looked over at my caddie (Steve Hale), we saw the board, Wagner said. I said, There it goes, its gone. He said, Well, the days not over yet. You still have a chance.
Wagner started on the back nine and was 6 under with two holes left. With his mother watching, Wagner knocked a 260-yard approach within a foot on the eighth and tapped in for an eagle. He was 5 under on his last five holes.
Heard my mom whistling, he said. Shes got a loud whistle.
Hoffman shot a 31 on his front nine, then overcame a three-putt bogey on his 11th hole with birdies on two of his last three.
Nice to see those when there hasnt been so much of that this year, said Hoffman, currently 105th in the money list.
Stricker was 1-over after five holes, then birdied six of his next nine, finishing the stretch by holing a bunker shot on the par-4 5th. He added a birdie on the par-5 8th to secure his sixth sub-70 score in his last seven rounds at Redstone.
Davis Love III, needing a victory to qualify for next weeks Masters, shot a 69. Love has the longest active streak of major appearances (70). Jason Gore withdrew on Thursday morning with an illness. John Daly opened with a 78.
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