If Adam Scott had any complaints at all about his play last season, it was that he didn’t get the most out of his good rounds or his good weeks.
“Today felt like I kind of got the most out of myself,” said Scott, a former Masters champion who is from Australia.
Making his 2019-2020 PGA Tour season debut, Scott got off to a very good start in his first appearance at the Safeway Open in Napa. The wedge he hit on his approach shot on the par-4 10th, his starting hole, led to a par. He birdied the next hole, the par-3 11th.
Scott took off, shooting a 7-under-par 65 on the North Course at Silverado Resort and Spa, on a day when the weather changed dramatically, with much cooler temperatures and breezy conditions. The heat wave that hit the Napa Valley earlier in the week – with temperatures hovering around the 100-degree mark for three straight days – was all gone.
Scott and Andrew Landry are tied for lead in the fall season event, which has a $6.6 million purse and is presented by Chevron.
Landry played late in the day and also shot 65.
Scott and Landry lead by one shot over Francesco Molinari of Italy and Matthew NeSmith, each of whom had 66s. Molinari won The Open Championship in 2018.
“I had great control of my irons. I felt that on the range and right from my first shot into the 10th green this morning. It was right on my target. The 11th was right on my target,” said Scott, a 13-time winner on Tour. “So I knew I could just kind of pick safe but aggressive lines and I’ll be OK. They were kind of on the right shape. I took advantage of that pretty well.
“I never felt too much stress out there because I felt I could always put it where I needed to go into the green.”
Scott, No. 15 in the Official World Golf Ranking and No. 6 in the FedExCup Rankings, overcame a lone bogey by making an eagle and six birdies on the par-72, 7,166-yard course. He hit 8-of-14 fairways and 14-of-18 greens.
“I actually really enjoy this kind of tighter, smaller style courses,” said Scott. “We often play big, open, modern resort-style courses. A lot of the holes remind me of a lot of golf in areas of Australia, too, with the big trees.
“I feel quite comfortable out there.”
The greens at Silverado are known to be very difficult and put up a defense. Scott’s round included 27 putts and he made over 150 feet in putts. He was 2-of-2 on sand saves.
“I’ve been putting really nicely this whole year,” he said outside the scoring trailer, next to the practice green. “I really haven’t fiddled with it since the Tour Championship and just kind of kept the routine going and the rhythm. I’ve been rolling some long ones in, which is obviously very helpful no matter what they’re for – par or birdie or eagle. I felt really solid on the greens, so I’m just going to try and keep that going.”
Scott’s eagle came on the par-5, 538-yard fifth hole. He hit the middle of the green with a 4-iron second shot that split the trees.
“It was all happening there on the fifth – a fun way to kind of keep the momentum going and get the most out of the round,” said Scott.
Cameron Champ of Sacramento and Adam Long are tied for fifth after 67s.
Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, an amateur who is in the tournament on a sponsor’s invitation, opened with a 2-under 70. Romo is a four-time Pro Bowl selection for the Cowboys and the current lead analyst for CBS Sports’ NFL coverage.
The Safeway Open, which has a field of 144 players, is the third event of the PGA Tour’s wrap-around schedule that bridges two years. The winner will receive $1.188 million.
It’s the strongest field in the tournament’s history.
Scott’s wins include the Masters Tournament in 2013, The Players Championship in 2004, The Tour Championship presented by Coca-Cola in 2006, World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational in 2011, and the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship in 2016.
He has been on eight Presidents Cup teams (2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2017). Last season, he had second-place finishes at the Farmers Insurance Open in January at Torrey Pines in San Diego and the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio in June.
He played in all three FedExCup Playoffs, placing fifth at the Northern Trust at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, New Jersey, tying for ninth at the BMW Championship at Medinah Country Club in Medinah, Illinois, and finishing sixth at the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.
Scott is looking for his first win since 2016.
“I think I just need to keep the intensity up,” said Scott. “I feel like I’ve had points like this in my career before. The most obvious to me was in 2012 where I played really, really great all year on the Tour and didn’t win and felt like I could have, and eventually I won a tournament late in the year in Australia just because I kind of kept the intensity up and kept pushing forward and not just being satisfied or getting frustrated with not getting a win.
“I kind of feel like I’m in that same place, and it’s a similar time of year where I hopefully can cross that line this year and set myself up with the confidence that gives you for a big year once we roll into 2020.
This is a nice way to start. I would like to have a lead going into Sunday and see what I can produce, to be honest.”
Romo is known for his years playing for the Cowboys, passing for 34,183 career yards with 248 touchdowns, a 65.3 completion percentage and a 97.1 passer rating.
Romo directed the Cowboys to four appearances in the postseason and was a Pro Bowl selection in 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2014. He retired following the 2016 season.
This week marks his his fourth appearance in a PGA Tour event. He played on a sponsor’s exemption and missed the cut in May at the AT&T Byron Nelson at Trinity Forest Golf Club in Dallas.
He played on sponsor’s invitations twice at the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship, which is held at Corales Golf Club at Punta Cana, in the Dominican Republic. Romo missed the cut in both events.
“I’ve been putting well, so it was nice to come out here and keep that going,” said Romo. “These greens are tough, they’re tricky and you have to be really dialed in with the speed and the line, a lot of subtlety. But if it comes off your face where you’re aiming, it usually helps.
“I just played smart on some of the holes where pin locations were really difficult, just tried to commit to spots and where I was aiming. I controlled my ball today.”
Romo won the American Century Championship, a celebrity tournament at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course at Stateline, Nevada for the second straight year in July.
* There will be a 36-hole cut after Friday’s second round to the low 65 scores and ties.
* Golf Channel continues its coverage of the Safeway Open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, from 3-6 p.m. each day.
* The teams led by PGA Tour players Corey Conners and Marc Leishman tied for first place in Wednesday’s Safeway Open Pro-Am, each team at 8-under 64.
The teams led by Patrick Cantlay, Adam Hadwin, Byeong Hun An and Nate Lashley tied for third place, each team at 6-under.
There was a nine-way tie for seventh place.
* The weather forecast, provided by the PGA Tour, calls for temperatures on Friday ranging from 56 to 71, from 52 to 74 on Saturday, and from 48 to 70 on Sunday.
Temperatures will remain cool, likely only in the 70s this weekend, according to the Tour. Overnight lows could dip into the 40s as well, the Tour reported.