Scott hits record score as Woods trails by three shots at British Open

Story highlights

  • Australia's Adam Scott equals course record with 64 at Royal Lytham
  • Tiger Woods three shots off the lead, tied for fifth at British Open
  • World No. 2 Rory McIlroy hits fan with a tee-shot but also cards a 67
  • Defending champion Darren Clarke endures miserable round of 76

Australian golfer Adam Scott took the first-round lead at the British Open after carding a spectacular six-under-par 64 on Thursday, narrowly missing out on making history.

The world No. 13 looked set to card the first 62 in a major championship after eight birdies in his first 17 holes but a bogey at the last meant he had to settle for the lowest opening round in an Open championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes and matching the overall course record.

The 31-year-old finished the day one shot ahead of Scotland's 1999 British Open champion Paul Lawrie, in-form 2007 Masters winner Zach Johnson -- who won on his last PGA Tour start to earn a place in the field -- and Belgium's Nicholas Colsaerts.

Why U.S. golf has a healthy future

Three time British Open champion Tiger Woods finished three shots behind Scott, tied for fifth, after a mixed opening round in his bid to win his first major since 2008.

The 14-time major winner was joined on three under by 2002 British Open champion Ernie Els, former U.S. Open winners Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell plus reigning Masters champion Bubba Watson.

British Open leaderboard

Will the Open return to Royal Portrush?
Will the Open return to Royal Portrush?


    Will the Open return to Royal Portrush?


Will the Open return to Royal Portrush? 05:51
Hotshots: Luke Donald's bunker shot
Hotshots: Luke Donald's bunker shot


    Hotshots: Luke Donald's bunker shot


Hotshots: Luke Donald's bunker shot 03:22
David Duval looks to regain winning form
David Duval looks to regain winning form


    David Duval looks to regain winning form


David Duval looks to regain winning form 04:15

The buildup to the tournament was dominated by talk of the playing conditions, as Woods described the course as "almost unplayable" after his first practice round due to its thick rough.

However, after several days of strong wind and heavy rain, benign conditions allowed the players to attack the English links course.

"It was like a walk in the park today, and not like what we've been experiencing in the practice rounds," Scott told the official website. "I'm sure there's going to be some weather elements thrown at us the next three days so I'm just going to have to knuckle down and handle that."

"But I'm confident. My ball striking is good and I think I can get round no matter what the conditions are."

Woods was leading the field before Scott began his impressive run, as the American reached four under after seven holes -- but he missed several birdie putts and dropped a shot on the 15th.

"It was a good start," Woods said. "I hit the ball well all day but just lacked a bit of pace on the greens coming home. Every putt was right on line, they were dying off the front of the lip.

"I played practice rounds on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and they were completely different clubs based on the winds.

"I was shaping the golf ball both ways. Sometimes I rode the wind; sometimes I held it against it."

British hope McIlroy also endured a mixed opening round. The Northern Irishman was going well on three under when he suffered a double bogey on 15. His tee shot struck a spectator and rolled out of bounds, forcing him to return to the tee.

The former world number one picked up two birdies from the remaining three holes to pull himself level with tournament favorite Woods.

"It was an eventful last four holes. Everything was going along pretty nicely," the 2011 U.S. Open winner said. "I hit it slightly right and got an unfortunate break. I thought I did well to keep my composure after that.

"I didn't realize there was an out of bounds over there. It went 20 yards off his head. He could have headed it the other way!

"The most important thing was that he was okay and the birdie at 18 will make dinner taste very nice."

World number one Luke Donald ended the day on level par after a subdued round. A birdie at the par-four third proved the highlight, while the Englishman dropped a shot on the final hole to be tied for 33rd.

Defending champion Darren Clarke had a miserable opening round, finishing on six over par. Clarke has been out of form since his victory and, bar a birdie at the 10th, the veteran Northern Irisdman showed no sign of last year's winning form.

"I played poorly and I putted worse. It was very disappointing because at practice I hit really, really well," Clarke said.

"Basically, I'm disgusted with myself."

World No. 3 Lee Westwood, still seeking his first major win, failed to live up to pre-tournament hopes as he ended on three over par. A double bogey on the third and five more dropped shots ended the Englishman's chances of threatening the top of the leaderboard.

The forecast is for a mostly clear day on Friday, which should help the leaders continue their impressive start to the championship.