GOLD COAST, Australia — After slow starts in his past two tournaments, Adam Scott wanted to play the first round of the Australian PGA Championship like it was his last.
For the first time on this trip Down Under, he's in the red after the first round. The 2013 champion closed with three birdies for a 4-under 68 at Royal Pines Resort and was three shots behind leaders Andrew Dodt, Harold Varner, and Ashley Hall after a rain-interrupted opening round.
Dodt and Scott were in the half of the field which finished on Thursday before lightning and a storm forced organizers to postpone play until Friday morning.
Play resumed at 5:30 a.m. local time, and Varner completed his first round on Friday with birdies on his last two holes. Hall birdied four of his last seven holes.
Varner, who tied for second place last year, said it was a good way to get momentum going. He was playing his second round later Friday.
Matthew Griffin, who finished his opening round on Friday, was in fourth spot after a 66.
American player Julian Suri, who missed out by one stroke on getting a full card on the European Tour last month, and Ryan Fox of New Zealand were next at 5 under.
Scott has a share of seventh place, and was more content with his start than he had been in the previous two weeks.
"It's the last week of the year. There's no 'I'll get them next week' — (I) just have to make it count," Scott said. "It didn't look pretty at the start but somehow I was 2 under after 3 and then hung in there and finished well."
Scott has had his frustrations on this trip back to Australia, where he's planning on taking a vacation from next week. He opened with a 73 at the Australian Open in Sydney last month and finished the tournament six shots behind Jordan Spieth, who won in a playoff.
At the World Cup of Golf last weekend in Melbourne, Scott and Australian teammate Marc Leishman carded a 74 in an opening round that contained just one birdie.
On Thursday, Scott eagled the par-5 12th — his third hole — followed by a bogey at the 18th, before he turned and finished with the three birdies.
"A quick start and a quick finish adds up to a good score," said Scott, who won the Australian PGA Championship in 2013 and was runner-up the following year after a marathon playoff with Greg Chalmers. "I was just treading water for a while ... cautious of going over the green in between clubs. You just have to be patient and it paid off."
Jarrod Lyle produced the shot of the opening day with a hole-in-one on the 169-meter par-3 fifth.
"I wouldn't say it was the perfect shot," Lyle told the host broadcaster. "It was a little bit thin but it worked out all right."