By Nick Mulvenney
SYDNEY (Reuters) - Adam Scott shot a course record 10-under-par 62 in the first round of the Australian Open at Royal Sydney on Thursday but the world number two was left ruing a mid-round dip that prevented him from posting an even lower score.
Scott has been on fire on a valedictory tour of his homeland over the last few weeks, winning both the Australian PGA and Masters, and helping his country to hoist the World Cup of Golf in Melbourne last weekend.
The 33-year-old showed no sign of slowing down as he started his fourth event at the Royal Sydney Golf Course on Thursday, grabbing birdies on his first six holes, parring the middle eight and then picking up four shots on his final four holes.
The first streak of birdies had the U.S. Masters champion contemplating the possibility that he might be about to join an even more select group of golfers, those who have shot rounds of 59 in professional tournaments.
"I wasn't thinking about it hard but I knew it was a possibility. Having birdied the six holes I birdied, I felt like all the opportunities were still to come," he said.
"So if I kept it going, and I had a good run around the turn, I felt it was on for sure."
It was not to be, though, and from his seventh hole - the 16th - Scott felt his swing desert him and was soon battling his frustration at being unable to continue his charge.
"It was a beautiful day for golf, I came out hitting great shots and didn't have much work to do to clean them up in the first five holes and had a nice putt on my sixth hole and I was really rolling at that stage," he said.
"But I think I've gone through a rollercoaster of emotion out there today from cruising after six holes to having to work pretty hard.
"Nothing much was going my way, I missed a green, felt like my swing was leaving me again, it's just amazing how in 18 holes you can do a 360 degrees of emotion and mood swings and everything."
Despite his success of the last few weeks, perfectionist Scott said he felt his swing had not been quite "in the slot" and revealed he had discussed his "sloppy" posture on the phone with his coach Brad Malone.
"It's a bit hard work for me at the moment," he said. "I still hit some great shots but a few average ones as well. But I got away with the bad ones today with some good saves."
It was all relative of course, and he continued to nail the four to five foot putts that punctuated his round before catching fire again at the sixth hole, his 15th.
Scott said the strong finish was essential to avoid wasting the opportunity his brilliant start had opened up, but part of him was still left contemplating how low he might have gone.
"I'm thinking about what today could have been, if I was really striking it and lost opportunities," he said.
Scott nevertheless said it had been one of the "best rounds" of his career, along with the round of 61 he hit to win the Qatar Masters in 2008 and a 62 he shot at the Memorial at Muirfield Village in 2007.
Thursday's round not only gave him a healthy early lead but also beat the course record of 65 held since the 2008 Australian Open by Stephen Dartnall, Matt Goggins, Ewan Porter, Chris Gaunt and Jason Norris.
(Editing by John O'Brien)