Adam Scott takes early lead at Australian PGA; Smith 2 back

Adam Scott takes early lead at Australian PGA; Smith 2 back

BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — Adam Scott shot a 5-under 66 on Thursday to take an early one-stroke lead at the Australian PGA championship at Royal Queensland.

Scott was playing in the same early-morning group as British Open champion Cameron Smith, who was two strokes behind after a 68, and Ryan Fox, a close runner-up to Rory McIlroy on the European tour’s order of merit this season, who had a 72.

The 35-year-old Fox is No. 27 in the world after ending last year at No. 213. The New Zealander won two European tour events and had four runner-up finishes in his resurgent season.

Scott had an early task for “new” caddie Steve Williams, who has come out of retirement to carry the bag for the 2013 Masters champion. When he woke up for a 6 a.m. tee time, Scott couldn’t find his golf bag.

Eventually recovered from his manager’s room, the pair were welcomed by hundreds of early risers on the 10th tee.

“It was panic stations . . . Steve was kicking doors down,” Scott laughed of his early-morning search for his clubs.

Strong approach play led to four tap-in birdies in five holes on either side of the turn and then, after back-to-back bogeys brought him back to the field, Scott’s putting earned him two more birdies in the final three holes.

Scott sought local advice on how to navigate Royal Queensland’s dramatically undulating greens that feature sharp run-offs. His decision to putt multiple times from off the green paid off.

“The conditions couldn’t be better and you want to take advantage of that,” he said. “I’m very pleased with that, all really solid stuff.”

Scott said Williams, who caddied for the Australian when he won the Masters, was keen on his tournament return.

“Yeah, it was great, he obviously hasn’t been out at any events for quite a long time, so I think he was pretty excited,” Scott said. “We came out and played Tuesday morning, it’s quite easy. I may have changed, but I know he’s not and so I knew what to expect when we came out and to fall back into familiar routines was pretty good.”

Nicolai Hojgaard shot 68 while his 21-year-old identical twin Rasmus Hojgaard had a 69. The Belgian siblings made European tour history last year by winning back-to-back tournaments.

Smith is among six players who have competed in Saudi-funded LIV Golf events this year. Others are Marc Leishman, who played in the afternoon, Wade Ormsby (72) and defending champion Jed Morgan (70).

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