April 21, 2021

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Scott wows with shot from alligator-infested water

4 min read
Former champion Adam Scott was forced to run the gauntlet of local alligators as he...

Former champion Adam Scott was forced to run the gauntlet of local alligators as he waded into the water to save par during the opening round of the PGA Tour's Honda Classic.

On just his second hole of the day, Scott's approach shot found the water beside the green, and rather than taking a penalty, the Australian removed his shoes and socks, rolled up his pants, and decided to play the partially submerged ball.

Having bogeyed the opening hole, Scott couldn't afford another dropped shot, so he had no hesitation about getting wet, even though the course in Florida is renowned for alligators.

"I blocked my 7-iron and when I got up there I figured I could play it, but I called in a rules official because incredibly there were some electrical cables in the penalty area around my ball that I needed to move," Scott told PGATOUR.com.

"I was able to move them, get my shoes and socks off, roll the trousers up, get my waterproof jacket on and get in the water with my lob wedge. From there I just played it like a full bunker explosion shot and got it to about 12-feet."

Scott rolled in the three metre putt for par on his way to an opening round one-under 69, good enough for a tie for 24th.

He's eight shots behind compatriot Matt Jones, who holds a three-shot lead after a course-record 61.

Jones' opening round was remarkable, but he was remarkably unimpressed.

Adam Scott plays from the water during the opening round of the PGA Tour's Honda Classic.

Jones tied the course record at PGA National with a bogey-free nine-under 61, giving him a three-shot lead after the morning wave of players. He matched the mark set by Brian Harman in the second round of the 2012 Honda, and was one shot better than the final-round 62 that Tiger Woods posted that same year.

All told, there have been roughly 6,000 tournament rounds at the Honda since it moved to PGA National in 2007. None was better than the one Thursday from Jones, an Australian ranked No. 83 in the world.

"I play golf for a living," Jones said. "I mean, I should be able to shoot a good golf score occasionally. It doesn't happen as much as I want. But yes, I'm very happy with it. I was very calm, I was very relaxed out there. I'm normally a bit more amped-up and hyped-up and I had a different goal this week, to be a little more calm than normally and walk slower."

It worked wonders.

He's not into charting superlatives. He doesn't know how many course records he now holds, or how many holes in one he's made. He wasn't even aware he had four consecutive birdies on the front nine Thursday until he saw his card on a giant leaderboard as his round was ending.

"I was just managing the golf course and hitting good shots," Jones said.

Russell Henley and Aaron Wise were each six-under after their opening rounds, those 64s matching the best score at the Honda by anyone — Jones excluded — since Rory McIlroy and Russell Knox each had 63s in 2014. Nobody in the field last year shot better than a 66.

And Henley and Wise still walked off the course Thursday three shots back.

"That's an amazing round," Wise said. "But I felt like I played one, too."

Jones had the four consecutive birdies on holes 2-5, had others on the par-4 11th and par-4 13th, then finished with birdies on each of his final three holes and never dropped a shot despite the Honda's usual windy conditions.

Adam Hadwin, who played in Jones' group, said "good shot" more times than he could count.

Matt Jones of Australia plays his shot from the 14th tee during the first round of The Honda Classic.

"I just stopped saying it at a certain point," Hadwin said. "He just hit so many, you just stop saying it. You're just under the assumption that it was good."

Jones has just one PGA Tour victory, that coming with a chip-in to win a playoff at the 2014 Houston Open. He hasn't made the cut in a major since the 2016 British Open and has never finished better than tied for fourth at the Honda, doing that in his debut at the event in 2008.

"Whatever Matt Jones is doing, I want to see it because 61 out there is incredible," said Shane Lowry, who shot 67 in his opening round.

"That's just incredible."

It was still a befuddling day for many. Graeme McDowell played the "Bear Trap" stretch — the par-3 15th, par-4 16th and par-3 17th — in 6 over, after making a quadruple-bogey at 15 and a double-bogey on 17. And Hunter Mahan had a six-hole stretch in which he made, in order, eagle, bogey, bogey, triple-bogey, bogey, birdie.

Mahan finished at 77, McDowell at 79.

"It's just so hard, so tricky," Lowry said. "There's a lot of disaster holes."

Jones, at least for one day, avoided them all.

"It was a very good day," he said.

— With Associated Press.

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