Golf: Scrambling Scott stays in touch in S. Korea

SEOUL - World number 12 Adam Scott was relieved to stay in contention at the Ballantine's Championship after getting off to the worst possible start early on Thursday morning.

Scott, starting his round from the 10th tee at 07:30 am on a crisp bright morning, put his drive into the middle of the fairway but then found water and took a double-bogey six.

"It was freezing cold and I couldn't feel my hands," said the highest-ranked player at the tournament. "Second shot was, you know, a cold golf swing with a stiff body. Straight in the water, so an easy double."

Scott gradually warmed to his task and finished with a birdie at his last hole, the ninth, to card a one-under par 71, just a shot off the early clubhouse lead held by four players on two-under 70: Richie Ramsay of Scotland, Jamie Donaldson of Wales, Englishman Mark Foster and South Korea's Jung Ji-ho.

The finishing flourish left the Australian pleased with his day's work.

"Anything under par today is a very good score," Scott told AFP. "It's one of those days in golf where you can lose it on the first day easily and play your way out of the tournament.

"It was important for me to scramble and stay in touch and hopefully that's where I'll be for the rest of the day and then I'll go into tomorrow really optimistic."

Scott was joined at one-under in the clubhouse by five other players on a morning where 78 golfers - half the field - teed off but only 10 managed to break par.

British Open Champion Darren Clarke, playing in his first tournament in South Korea, struggled with his putting on the steeply tiered greens and returned a disappointing five-over 77.

Irishman Paul McGinley, who famously holed the putt to win the Ryder Cup for Europe in 2002, was one of those tied with Scott at one under on a gruelling morning in the windy mountain course.

McGinley was happy with his round despite grimacing as he stepped into the scorer's hut.

"I think exhausted is the word," he said.

"You know, five and a half hours in that wind and up and down hills all day. I was up at half four this morning so it's been a long day already and it's only lunchtime!

"It's very bunched," added McGinley. "It's that kind of day. I'll be very surprised if someone runs away to five or six-under par today.

"You need a lot of luck to get away to that score because it's difficult to get on to the right tiers."

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