It’s hard to imagine a first day going better at the Cathedral Invitational than what transpired today at Cathedral Lodge & Golf Club, where Adam Scott leads the tournament on eight-under, one clear of Cameron Smith.
The pair of marquee stars will form part of a “super group” when they go out as a three ball with fellow major champion Geoff Ogilvy on the second and final day. The 2006 US Open champion sits on six-under alongside one of Australia’s brightest prospects, Jeffrey Guan.
Scott compiled his 64 alongside Cathedral Lodge founder David Evans in the member-pro format, his round equalling the course-record of tournament director Matt Jager who opened with a two-under 70.
“It was all pretty straight forward stuff, I think I rolled in a lot of nice putts in,” Scott said.
“If I was to brag about myself on anything, I rolled the putts really nice, not everything was from close range, so I am pretty happy with that.”
The only thing that slightly displeased the former world No.1 was double-bogey at the par-3 ninth after “a trip to the bushes”, yet with the relaxed atmosphere Scott was full of smiles.
Scott’s enjoyment of the event and week increased by the involvement of the Adam Scott Foundation as a beneficiary of the tournament dinner on Monday night.
“It’s very special that he (Evans) has included my foundation in this, that has a lot of meaning for me,” Scott said.
“It’s great that the club has embraced that as well. It was fun last night at the auction, and I think we can do some fabulous stuff in this region.”
Following Scott from the first tee in the shotgun start, Smith looked back to his old self after a relaxed start to the day where he spent time chatting with members and friends before bolting out of the blocks.
Regulation pars on the first two holes were followed by a birdie barrage from the 2022 Open champion, Smith making four in a row starting at the third before he added two more to close the front nine in 29 before a far less eventful back nine of one-under.
“It was good, it was enjoyable. Course was in great nick, managed to see some putts go in, ended up pretty good,” Smith said.
“Probably could have had a couple less, bit scratchy there on the back nine for a bit. But happy with it.”
Smith was also happy with the grouping for the final day that he joked would see him playing with “two old boys”, his sentiment echoed by Scott and Ogilvy, who will provide a thrilling experience for the crowds when the gates open on Wednesday and the winner will walk away with $100,000.
“That’s good that I’m not the old bloke in the group, I like that,” Scott said with a wry smile.
Added Ogilvy: “It’ll be fun, I haven’t played with those two for a while… I will try to stitch them up, up the hill tonight and keep them up late.”
Perhaps benefitting, at least competitively, from missing the last group, Guan couldn’t have asked for a better start to his first ever Cathedral round. The Sydneysider getting his day underway from the 12th and making an eagle two holes later after he “stuck a 5-wood to two feet”.
Leaning on his member partner for guidance during the round, Guan made one slip-up with bogey at the par-3 17th that Ogilvy mused is the hardest one-shotter on the course. Guan’s 66 setting up another ideal three ball for what Evans and Jager are trying to create.
Guan will tee off at 12:19pm (AEDT) alongside Asia-Pacific Amateur champion Jasper Stubbs and Gabi Ruffels.
The soon-to-be Masters debutant and LPGA rookie tied with Karis Davidson, Jarryd Felton, Ben Eccles, Daniel Gale, Darcy Brereton and Justin Warren on five-under. The next wave of Australian golf talent hoping to upset the major winners, with Stubbs getting a yet another once-in-a-lifetime experience on Tuesday.
“It was pretty awesome. It’s a pretty grand setting, it’s probably the grandest setting we play. It’s pretty awesome and it was made even better by getting to play with Scotty today, he was awesome,” Stubbs said.
Scott is hoping to be similarly awesome with his play tomorrow to cap off his year with a win. Any concerns of fatigue dispelled with another wry smile.
“I think I’ve got one more day in me,” he joked.