Scott follows British flop with solid PGA start

Adam Scott wasn't going to let a few bad holes at the British Open ruin the best major performance of his life. He showed that Thursday with a 4-under 68 in the first round of the PGA Championship.

Scott held a four-stroke lead over Ernie Els with four holes remaining last month at Royal Latham & St. Annes. But Scott closed with four straight bogeys to drop the tournament — and the chance for his first major title — by a stroke to Els.

Scott was devastated, but chose to look at the positives.

"I wasn't going to let a few bad holes spoil my good play," he said Thursday.

That was obvious at The Ocean Course. Scott opened up with two birdies and bounced back from his only bogey on No. 4 with a birdie three holes later. He added two more birdies on the back nine and was in a group at 68, two strokes behind leader Carl Pettersson.

Scott began his own personal bounce back from the British Open a week ago at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational. While he tied for 45th, Scott said he was able to get mentally ready for what faced him in his last chance at a breakthrough major triumph.

"It was good to get out there and start switching the mind back on and concentrating and I did that a bit here and there last week," he said. "But good preparation for this week."

Scott said he received countless texts, emails and calls of support after his runner-up finish at the British. He may not have won, but he continued a stellar season in the year's biggest events. He tied for eighth at the Masters, tied for 15th at the U.S. Open and came a solid chip away from taking home the claret jug.

The 32-year-old Australian understands, though, if he doesn't contend here, it will be eight long months of questions until his next chance at the Masters in 2013.

"If I don't, then I'll really feel like I've let it all slip this year for me," Scott said. "So I'd love to use this opportunity while I'm playing well to get in there and have a sniff on Sunday."

Scott might have an edge Friday morning with some of the milder conditions. Pettersson's leading round came early, as did 13 of the 22 scores under 70 at The Ocean Course.

He's certainly gotten the backing of the galleries. Scott said fans have been especially supportive, both the situation of losing to Els in heart-breaking fashion and the classy way Scott handled defeat. "Obviously, I think all the golfers would've been watching the (British) Open," he said. "It's nice to hear that support. It's nice that they want to see me play well and I want to play well for them coming out and watching me."

Like many competitors here, Scott hadn't played The Ocean Course — home of the 1991 Ryder Cup matches — before he came out to practice last week. He'd heard the horror stories of unplayable wind, unputtable greens and alligators chomping golf balls near the marshes surrounding the layout.

"I didn't really know where I was going and it looked difficult," he said.

But like many courses by architect Pete Dye, Scott said you can uncover ways to successfully navigate the holes. "That's the point of coming down here," he said. "Certainly, the scoring is better than I imagined when I was here last Monday, Tuesday."