THE cream rose to the top at Royal Lytham today with six major champions at the top of the leaderboard at the Open Championship, including former world number one Tiger Woods.
But it was a player yet to join that exclusive club who set a clubhouse target that was proving hard to match, with Australia's Adam Scott taking advantage of benign conditions to card an opening 64, six under par.
Scott, who has recorded just one top 10 in 12 previous appearances in the Open, had the chance to create history when he stood seven under with two to play, therefore needing one more birdie for the first round of 62 in any major.
However, a bogey on the 18th after a poor tee shot meant the 31-year-old had to settle for equalling the lowest Open round at Lytham, which was set by Tom Lehman on his way to the Claret Jug in 1996.
"I know there's never been a 62 and when I was waiting to use the bathroom going to the 17th tee I did a look at the leaderboard and realised it was a par-70," the world number 13 said.
"And I also probably then realised that I wasn't going to be the guy to shoot 62. It's one of those things that you don't want to go through your mind, thinking about your final score and stuff like that. So I got rid of that quickly and got on to playing the 17th, but unfortunately dropped one up the last."
Scott finished eighth in the Masters and 15th in the US Open this year, despite shooting opening rounds of 75 and 76 respectively, and revealed his caddie Steve Williams - who worked for Woods during 13 of his 14 major wins - had helped focus his mind on making a fast start.
"We talked about that mindset because I was playing well at all the majors this year, but the first round I'm shooting myself in the foot a little bit and making it too much work to get back in it," he added.
"He [Williams] wanted me to go to that first tee today like it was the 72nd hole and you have three to win. Really switch yourself on from the first hole. That was a good little trigger he helped out with."
Scotland's Paul Lawrie, who has made the cut just five times in 12 Opens since his shock win at Carnoustie in 1999, shared second place with former Masters champion Zach Johnson on five under, with Johnson looking for a second win in succession after claiming the John Deere Classic on Sunday.
Lawrie chipped in twice in the first five holes for two of his six birdies, admitting: "It was the most bizarre five holes of my career. I was three under and could have been one over."
But it was the appearance of Woods on the leaderboard which sparked the championship into life after a low-key start, the 14-time major champion moving into the outright lead with four birdies in his first seven holes.
Woods, who has been an also-ran or non-runner in the Open since his last win in 2006, had the chance to match the Open record of 29 for the front nine at Lytham when he hit a fine approach to the par-three ninth, but missed from 10ft as his putter went cold.
A bogey on the 15th after twice tangling with heavy rough left Woods three under and eventually signing for a 67 to finish alongside 2002 champion Ernie Els, current Masters champion Bubba Watson and former US Open winner Graeme McDowell.
Defending champion Darren Clarke returned an opening 76 which featured just one birdie, while David Duval, champion here in 2001, carded a 74.
World number three Lee Westwood birdied the first two holes but came home in 40 for a hugely disappointing 73.
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