Scott-Willams combo leads AT&T

Adam Scott, playing with Tiger Woods’s caddie, Steve Williams, on his bag, shares the first-round lead at the AT&T National.

Adam Scott, playing with tournament host Tiger Woods’s regular caddie, Steve Williams, on his bag, shared the first-round lead at the AT&T National at Aronimink on Thursday.

The hot-shot combination was not very successful at the US Open where Scott missed the cut, but it worked well at Aronimink on Thursday

The Australian put the cherry on top of his opening four-under-par 66 with a 15-foot birdie putt at the 18th hole to tie American journeyman Hunter Haas for top spot on the leaderboard after the first day

Four players were tied for second place on three-under 67s, these being talented rookie Jhonattan Vegas of Venezuela, who already has a win under his belt this season, and Americans Dean Wilson, Joe Ogilvie and Kyle Stanley.

Justin Leonard and Vijay Singh were among 10 players sitting two shots off the lead while KJ Choi was among the 12 players to shoot one-under 69s.

Top10 leaderboard

66 Adam Scott (Aus), Hunter Haas
67 Dean Wilson, Kyle Stanley, Joe Ogilvie, Jhonattan Vegas (Ven)
68 Pat Perez, John Merrick, Robert Garrigus, Charles Howell III, D.A. Points, Vijay Singh (Fij), Justin Leonard, Bill Haas, Rickie Fowler, Troy Matteson.

Wilson, playing in the first group of the day, holed out for an eagle three at the 558-yard 16th hole with a shot out of the deep rough protecting the front of the green.

“It was a pretty decent shot,” he said, “but it luckily hit the pin. It probably would have gone about 10 feet by, but it hit the pin and went in.”

Scott told the media afterwards that he had found it an interesting and rewarding experience playing with Williams as his caddie

“It’s been fun to have Steve (Williams) on the bag for a couple of weeks,” he said. “I’ve learned some things. He knows how to manage his way around the golf course. He’s got a wealth of knowledge and he’s been a great help.”

Williams is on loan to Scott with Woods’s permission and will return to his long-time employer after the American recovers from his knee and Achilles heel injuries and begins playing again.

Woods said this week he has no timetable for his comeback at this stage and if, as is now expected, he can’t play in the British Open in two weeks time, Scott said he hoped Williams would caddie for him at Royal St. George’s.

Scott’s 66 at Aronimink equalled his best round on the PGA Tour this year and the 30-year-old said: “I think the key to my round was hitting a lot of fairways, which gave me an opportunity to hit the greens.

“The few fairways that I did miss, I didn’t get into too much trouble. It was kind of a stress-free round, which is a nice way to start.”

While the Australian had a run of three birdies in four holes on his front nine, Haas did better with four successive birdies on his first nine holes.

Teeing off at the 10th, Haas picked them up at the 13, 14, 15 and 16 holes to lead the way by one shot as he reached the turn.
He made another gain at the fourth – his 13th – but dropped a shot on the seventh, his 16th, to fall back into a share of the lead.

“I just really focused on keeping the ball below the hole and getting the ball in play,” said Haas, who also enjoyed his best round of the year.

“The holes I didn’t get it in play, I hit great shots out of the rough and ended up making birdie off one of them, so that kind of helps.”

Haas, over the last five years, has played most of his golf on the Nationwide Tour. A former college standout at Oklahoma University, the 34-year-old Haas earned his PGA Tour card for 2011 by finishing third on the Nationwide money list.