Maybe it was the home cooking. Two days after he hosted the Champions Dinner with an Australian surf and turf menu topped off with a dessert made from his mother’s recipe, Adam Scott shot a 3-under-par 69 in Thursday’s opening round.
“I was very happy with the way I played today tee to green,” Scott said. “It was really how you hope to come out and play at any major, and especially the Masters. I was really solid.”
Scott’s second-place finish was the highest in an opening round for a defending champion at the Masters since 1995, when Jose Maria Olazabal led the field after a first-day 66.
As well as he played, Scott began his round with a case of the first-tee jitters, pushing his drive toward the pines on the right. He said he always finds it challenging to settle his nerves at the start of the opening round at Augusta National.
“The first few holes of the Masters is the most nervous I ever get on a golf course,” he said. “We’ve been waiting eight months to play a major, and then to get here – everything about the place – it’s hard to calm down.”
But in a sign of good things to come, Scott recovered quickly from his errant drive, hitting his approach shot from the edge of the tree line to three feet from the hole. He made the putt for birdie, one of just three birdies the 445-yard opening hole, benignly named Tea Olive, yielded all day.
Scott added two more birdies on Nos. 6 and 9 to make the turn in 33. Another birdie at the 495-yard 10th gave Scott the Tournament lead at 4-under.
The only blemish on his card was a double-bogey 5 on the always tricky par-3 12th.
Scott’s 9-iron off the tee landed on the bank short of the green and bounced into the water.
“I just lost a little focus on that shot and didn’t commit fully to it,” he said, “and you paid a price on that one; that was what happened to me.”
Electing to play his next shot from the drop area, Scott pitched to five feet but missed the putt.
His only other disappointment on the day was three-putting the two par-5s on the second nine after hitting both of them in two.
Scott has exuded a quiet confidence all week.
On Tuesday, he said he was savoring his role as defending champion, including hosting the Champions Dinner and using the Champions Locker Room.
“I want to try to enjoy all that,” Scott said, “but I also want to really get my head into playing well this week, because I think I’m in good form.”
After discussing his opening round, Scott was asked on Thursday about the experience of hosting the Champions Dinner, a tradition that dates to 1952.
“Yeah, I had a great night,” he said. “And, of course, I looked around and got to see all the faces. It’s quite surreal. It’s the legends of the game of golf, I have great appreciation for what everyone in there has done.”
Only three players have ever earned back-to-back victories at the Masters, but Scott said he remained focused only on round two.
“Just another good round tomorrow,” he said.