Scott fires opening 64

Updated: July 20, 2012

Australian Adam Scott set the pace with a course record-equalling 64 and a steely-looking Tiger Woods rattled off four early birdies in a composed first-round 67 at the Open Championship on Thursday.

World number 13 Scott conjured up eight birdies in benign conditions at Lytham to finish on six under par, one ahead of Scotland’s Paul Lawrie, American Zach Johnson and Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts.

Former world No 1 Woods played beautifully controlled golf to birdie the first, fourth, sixth and seventh holes, getting his bid for a 15th major championship, and first for four years, off to a flawless start.

The American wasted birdie opportunities before twice finding treacherous rough at the 15th hole to drop his only shot of the day but he was happy with a putting performance that revived memories of him at his pomp.

Lawrie, the 1999 Open winner, made three successive birdies from the third and picked up further shots at the 14th and 15th to set himself up for a final flourish when a sumptuous iron into the 18th green left him with a tap-in for birdie.

Colsaerts holed his approach for an eagle two at the second and two birdies on the back nine in late afternoon drizzle left him in a share of second place, one ahead of American Brandt Snedeker who stole through the field late in the day with a bogey-free 66.

Former US Open champion Graeme McDowell completed a solid 67, level with Woods, world No 2 Rory McIlroy, South African Ernie Els, Americans Bubba Watson and Steve Stricker, Japan’s Toshinori Muto and Swede Peter Hanson.

McIlroy, among the late starters, moved quietly to three under par before an errant tee shot at the 15th hit a young spectator on the head and ended out of bounds.

The Northern Irishman hastily signed his glove to give to the stricken youth but the ensuing double-bogey hurt McIlroy who dug in bravely to claw shots back at the 16th and 18th holes.

World No 1 Luke Donald made his first bogey of the day on the last hole but managed only one birdie to card a level-par 70 and stay in the hunt to become the first Englishman to win the Open on home soil since 1969.

Lee Westwood did his chances of achieving that feat no good, however, the world No 3 failing to take advantage of birdies at the opening two holes and fading badly to finish with a scrappy 73.

Defending champion Darren Clarke also made a poor start with a bogey-strewn 76, former world No 1 Martin Kaymer slumped to a 77 and four-times major champion Phil Mickelson had a double-bogey seven on the way to a 73.