An Aussie and a Swede Share the Lead

RSS

Stanford St. Jude ChampionshipMEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The TPC Southwind and gusty wind gave anyone wanting a tuneup for next week's U.S. Open a grinding preview Thursday.
 
With only seven players breaking par, Adam Scott survived a rough start to shoot a 3-under 67 for a share of the lead with Fredrik Jacobson in the toughest opening round ever in the Stanford St. Jude Championship.
 
Last year, 24 players were under par in the first round. Scott and Jacobson had the highest leading first-round score since Fuzzy Zoeller's 2-under 70 in 1986.
 
But this course is so much more difficult thanks to a redesign after David Toms won in 2004 at 16 under. The 7,239-yard course is so hard that only Winged Foot, site of last year's U.S. Open, ranked tougher on the tour in 2006.
 
Scott, ranked fourth in the world and the Shell Houston Open winner the week before the Masters, said it wasn't that surprising.
 
'The greens are tricky, not very big, and the pins were in quite difficult positions,' said Scott, who had a double-bogey, bogey, eagle and four birdies. 'So add the wind into that, you've got a tough day.'
 
Jacobson took advantage of somewhat calmer conditions in the second threesome off No. 10. He had five birdies and two bogeys.
 
'Anybody that shoots under par today will be really happy with where they are at the moment, and I feel that I'm right where I want to be,' Jacobson said.
 
A hot day that felt like it was 98 even with the wind only got worse with steady breezes gusting up to 32 mph. Picking the right club wasn't easy, and golfers had trouble steadying themselves over putts.
 
Retief Goosen and Brian Gay opened with 68s, and Scott Verplank, Gavin Coles and Duffy Waldorf shot 69s. John Daly, playing on a sponsor's exemption, was in group at even-par 70.
 
'It was really U.S. Open-type stuff,' Verplank said. 'Par was a good score on every hole. The conditions were so difficult with the wind blowing like that. (I'm) very happy to shoot under par.'
 
Daly, who has withdrawn from three events this year, could have disintegrated after a triple-bogey on No. 12 where he hit into the lake twice. But he holed out from 53 feet from a greenside bunker on the par-3 14th for a birdie -- one of five straight birdies that got him to 2 under. He bogeyed twice on his back nine to fall back.
 
'It's survival today. You never could get going because every hole is impossible. There's only two holes downwind, the other holes are crosswinds,' he said.
 
Vijay Singh shot a 72 on a course nothing like what he faced in 1992 when he tied for 13th here.
 
'I really am not familiar with where to hit it off the tees and all that, so I drove the ball pretty decent today and hopefully tomorrow I can get it going,' Singh said.
 
Scott had every chance to fall apart early himself after a double-bogey on No. 2 where he hit a 3-wood into long grass, chipped into the rough, hit a lob wedge into a bunker and then missed the putt. The Australian rebounded on the 554-yard, par-5 third with a 6-iron to 18 feet, sinking the putt for eagle.
 
'It was nice to get it straight back and try to get moving in the right direction. The main thing was not to compound the problem and keep going in the wrong direction,' Scott said.
 
Scott had a bogey and birdie and made the turn at even par. He birdied three of the first seven holes, including the par-5 16th where he chipped up to 12 feet and holed out for birdie to tie for the lead.
 
Jacobson likes Memphis. He tied for third in 2003, tied for fifth in 2004 and tied for sixth in 2005 before missing the cut last year. Playing well with six of the world's top 12 golfers in the field would mean even more for the Swede.
 
'It's a little bit of a bummer if you have a good week and don't really climb anything or just hold your position for a top five,' he said.
 
'Even if those guys aren't here, it's still not easy to finish in the top five. But it adds to the whole tournament obviously with the factor of some players here this year and for points and everything, which makes it more exciting.'
 
This is Jacobson's ninth straight week after taking more than seven months to recuperate from wrist surgery.
 
He tied for fifth last week at the Memorial and used his putter Thursday to hole out for birdie twice from 15 feet on Nos. 11 and 16. He made a 20-footer on the 196-yard, par-3 fourth, and a 4-footer on No. 5 before missing from that length on No. 8 for a bogey that cost him the outright lead.
 
'Once you're on the green trying to stand still and get a little push, it can push you off,' Jacobson said of the wind.
 
DIVOTS
Paul Azinger withdrew and was replaced by Tag Ridings. John Cook, who won at 26 under in 1996, withdrew after shooting a 42 through nine because of illness. Ted Purdy withdrew after shooting an 87, and Alex Cejka was disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard that had a 3 on No. 11 when he had a 5. Craig Perks withdrew after an 85. ... Shigeki Maruyama had the only eagle of the morning on the par-5 third. He made an 11-foot putt.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Stanford St. Jude Championship
  • GOLF CHANNEL Airtimes