Napa, Calif. — Slow starts plagued Adam Scott last season, a prime reason the former No. 1 player in the world was winless despite solid overall numbers. After taking a brief break, the 39-year-old Australian is back and emphasizing quicker, more aggressive starts.
Andrew Landry is just looking for a jump-start after missing the cuts in the first two events of the PGA Tour this season.
Scott and Landry shot 7-under 65 on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Safeway Open.
Francesco Molinari and Matthew NeSmith were a stroke back. Cameron Champ, Adam Long and Chris Baker shot 67.
Playing in the morning pairings at Silverado Country Club, Scott had six birdies and an eagle to make up for an early bogey. Landry teed off 4 1/2 hours later and played bogey-free with seven birdies.
“This is a nice way to start,” Scott said. “I would like to have a lead going into Sunday and see what I can produce, to be honest. I’ve been four and five back. It’s a lot to ask all the time when you’re as far behind as I kind of was.”
Ranked 15th in the world, Scott hasn’t won on the PGA Tour since taking the Honda Classic and World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship in consecutive weeks in 2016. Since then he has been up and down the scoreboard, frequently scurrying to catch up in the latter rounds after getting off to sluggish starts.
That wasn’t the case in Scott’s season debut.
Despite having only played two rounds previously at the picturesque, 7,166-yard course, he had four birdies on the front nine to compensate for a bogey on No. 13. After birdying two of the first three on the back nine, Scott drained a 53-foot putt for eagle on the 566-yard, par-5 fifth.
“Fun to kind of keep the momentum going and get the most out of the round,” Scott said. “If I had complaints about last season, I didn’t get the most out of my good rounds or my good weeks. Today felt like I kind of got the most out of myself.”
Scott saved par after his drive went into a green-side bunker on No. 7, made another par on No. 8, then narrowly missed a birdie and three-putted for par on No. 9 to close out his day.
Landry had five birdies on the front nine. The Valero Texas Open winner last year, he saved par after going into the bunker on the second hole of the back nine, then birdied Nos. 5 and 8 to get to 7 under.
“I was rolling the ball so well that I just figured, hey, I can make a lot of putts right now,” Landry said. “That’s kind of what I did all day. Ball-striking wasn’t as good as I wanted but the putting was there and made up for it.”
Former NFL quarterback and current CBS analyst Tony Romo opened with a 70. Romo is playing on a sponsor exemption. If he makes the cut, he will skip Sunday’s NFL broadcast in Chicago between the Bears and Minnesota Vikings.
Defending tournament champion Kevin Tway, Justin Thomas and FedEx Cup points leader Sebastian Munoz were in the group at 71. Munoz three-putted two par 3s to offset three birdies.
Brian Stuard (Oakland/Jackson) shot a 70 and Ryan Brehm (Michigan State/Midland) a 72.
Phil Mickelson shot 75, making a quadruple-bogey 9 on the par-5 fifth. Jim Furyk also had a 75
In Indianapolis, Mi Jung Hur shot a 9-under 63 to take the first-round lead in the Indy Women in Tech Championship.
Hur had a bogey-free round at Brickyard Crossing, the layout that features four holes inside the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval. The South Korean player won the Ladies Scottish Open last month for her third LPGA Tour victory.
England’s Bronte Law, coming off Europe’s victory over the United States in the Solheim Cup, was two strokes back with Denmark’s Nanna Koerstz Madsen and Japan’s Sakura Yokomine.
Marina Alex topped the nine U.S. Solheim Cup players in the field with a 66. She eagled the par-5 14th.
Amy Olson and Pornanong Phatlum also shot 66.
In St. Andrews, Scotland, Justin Walters shot a 9-under 63 for his lowest score on the European Tour in six years, giving him a one-stroke lead after the first round of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
Walters, ranked No. 444, has not recorded a top-20 finish in 23 events on the tour this season but found some form on the Old Course at St. Andrews, one of three Scottish venues for the pro-am event.
Every player in the field plays 18 holes at St. Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns, before returning to the Old Course for the fourth and final round Sunday.
Three players — Victor Perez, Jordan Smith, and Ryan Fox — shot 64 at St. Andrews, with Adrian Otaegui shooting the same score at Kingsbarns.
The best score at Carnoustie, traditionally the toughest of the three courses, was a 65 by Matthew Southgate, who was in a six-way tie for sixth place overall.
Justin Rose, who was playing alongside singer Justin Timberlake, was in a large group on 4 under after a 68 at Kingsbarns. Second-ranked Rory McIlroy also played there and shot 70.