Adam Scott seems as prepared to go 12 rounds as he is to play four. After a hot start to the US Open, he sounded more like Micky Ward than a professional golfer. Scott, 42 next month, knows it will be as difficult as a prize fight to stay in contention at the US Open in Boston. But for now, he’s in the mix.

“One (round) down, three to go,” Scott told Australian Golf Digest after a one-under-par 69, sounding like Mark Wahlberg’s portrayal of Boston boxer Ward in the Hollywood biopic The Fighter. “I played well; the first round of a US Open is all about getting yourself in the fight. I did a pretty good job of that today.”

At one under, Scott was three shots back of first round leader Adam Hadwin (66), while five players were tied at three under including Rory McIlroy (67).

Scott’s 69 appeared tidy on the scorecard- two birdies and just one bogey – although it was far from that. The Country Club’s par 70 course knocked him around, but the 2013 Masters winner kept getting up. He hit just seven of 14 fairways and nine of 18 greens – usually a recipe for disaster. But Scott scrambled hard with just 26 putts, which ranked 15th on Thursday for total putts, and he was tied 10th for strokes gained around the greens.

“It could have been three over par and it could have been three under par,” Scott said. “But I’ll take one under. At a US Open, you take any thing under par.”

US Opens are known as the toughest test in golf at The Country Club at Brookline makes that easy for the USGA to set up. The course has plenty of blind tee shots and approach shots, as well as false fronts, tricky greens and deep, cavernous bunkers.

At the par-5 eighth, Scott smoked a drive and hit his second shot so flush he let off a pronounced club twirl, but the ball caught the front edge of the green and rolled 60 yards back down the hilly fairway. For his delicate wedge shot next, Scott caught it slightly heavy and it again rolled back down the hill, even farther away from the hole. He clipped the next one beautifully and saved par.

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“This US Open will be a marathon,” Scott said. “Even if you’re playing great, it’s hard to avoid all the trouble around the course. I felt I was grinding and I was patient. I’m playing well and ticked all the boxes I needed to.”

Asked what was important to stay in the mix as The Country Club firms up and the course gets even more difficult, Scott said he needed to play like it was his last US Open. The former world No.1 is playing his 84th consecutive Major, the longest streak of any active player, but is determined to have more to show for his tally than just one Major victory.

“My focus will be everything the next three days,” he said. “I have to stay in the battle of really wanting this thing. It’s do or die kind of stuff. But I feel really good about where my game is. I feel really comfortable, so maybe that’ll help keep my mind where it needs to be.”

Scott was the leading Australian, while Marc Leishman (70) was one shot bak at even par.

Marc Leishman (70) was next best of the Australians at even par.

Major debutant Todd Sinnott was one over, while Australia’s top ranked Cam Smith struggled to a two-over 72. Perth native Min Woo Lee was three over and Lucas Herbert was four over. Young Queenslander Jed Morgan struggled to an 82 (12 over).