Scott rolls back the years at Wentworth as Rose bolsters Ryder Cup case

Wentworth (United Kingdom) (AFP) –


Former world number one Adam Scott enjoyed a trip down memory lane at the European Tour's PGA Championship on Thursday with a seven-under par round to move within one shot of joint leaders Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Christiaan Bezuidenhout.

Scott's playing partner Justin Rose bolstered his case for Ryder Cup selection with an opening round of 67 to finish on five-under, alongside fellow Englishman Laurie Canter and Japan's Masahiro Kawamura.

Scott only made the trip across the Atlantic after an early exit from the first FedEx Cup play-off event brought an end to his PGA Tour season.

"I've been feeling like I've been playing well and that's one of the reasons why I came here this week," said Scott.

"I didn't have anything to play in the last couple of weeks, so I felt like this was a great opportunity to come and play a really good event and bring back good memories from early days in my career."

Rose can qualify automatically for the Ryder Cup with a win on Sunday but is also among the favourites to receive a wildcard from European captain Padraig Harrington. He got off to a great start with a bogey-free round containing birdies on the second, fifth, sixth, 12th and 18th.

"It's obviously a really nice start for the tournament. Gives me the opportunity now to sink in my teeth and focus on what I should be focusing on," said Rose, who had his manager Paul McDonnell on the bag after his regular caddie tested positive for coronavirus.

Austria's Bernd Wiesberger - who needs a top-50 finish to potentially move into the automatic qualifying places - was three over par after six holes but birdied the 11th and 17th and made an eagle on the last to finish one under.

Wiesberger would move above Rory McIlroy in the European points list with the right result, meaning McIlroy qualifies instead from the world points list and knocks Shane Lowry out of the team.

Former Open champion Lowry carded four birdies and two bogeys in an opening 70 matched by playing partner Lee Westwood.

Aphibarnrat, who secured his PGA Tour card for next season via the Korn Ferry Tour last week, started the back nine with five straight birdies. The Thai picked up further shots on the 16th and 17th.

"I had a really hard time the last two years playing with injury, hurting my right knee after the Masters, and then when Covid hit I was stuck in my country for eight months and couldn't play much golf," Aphibarnrat said.

"When I came back out I just couldn't get the rhythm to play a golf tournament. I get nerves to go on the first tee, I don't know how to move the ball. I didn't feel comfortable on the golf course at all.

"After I get my Tour card back from the Korn Ferry finals it just loosened me up so I feel free to play my own game."