- The Washington Times - Friday, June 13, 2008

SAN DIEGO (AP) | The “other guy” in the marquee threesome was happy with his opening round in the U.S. Open, considering he’s playing with a broken bone near his right pinkie.

Australian Adam Scott, ranked No. 3 in the world, shot a 2-over 73 at Torrey Pines’ South Course on Thursday. His playing partners were Tiger Woods, who shot a 72, and Phil Mickelson, who had a 71. Woods and Mickelson are ranked 1-2.

Scott’s injury was the top topic after his round in front of a huge gallery at the clifftop course overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

“Well, it’s broken,” he said. “It’s not my finger anyway; it’s my hand. It doesn’t really affect my golf swing, so I’m pretty lucky to be playing.”

Scott, a six-time winner on the PGA Tour, said he broke the bone when a friend slammed his hand in a car door in London in mid-May.

“It’s pretty miserable,” he said.

Scott had to balance resting the hand and doing exercises to keep his strength.

“Obviously it hasn’t healed yet. It’s only been a couple weeks since I broke it. But it’s strong enough to where I can play, and it’s improved a lot in the last five days since I got here. So it’s been no problem.”

His grip is one reason he’s able to play.

“I overlap, fortunately, because I wouldn’t have been able to play if I interlock. It would have been too much stress on it.”

Scott enjoyed being part of the featured threesome, which will play together again Friday afternoon.

“I played with Phil a lot in majors,” Scott said. “It seems like I get drawn with him a lot. But I enjoy playing with Tiger as well. I find it a lot easier to focus because I think I’ve got to be a little more disciplined. And I felt like I played really well out there today, and I really didn’t make any putts.”

Falling Angel

Angel Cabrera opened the defense of his Open title with a thud, shooting an 8-over 79. He didn’t make his first birdie until the par-5 13th. Cabrera ballooned to 10-over after bogey at the par-3 16th before finishing with consecutive birdies.

Remembering Duplantis

When he reached the part of Torrey Pines’ South Course that is closest to the Pacific Ocean, Eric Axley couldn’t help but think of his former caddie, Steve Duplantis.

Axley was playing Torrey Pines for the first time since Duplantis was killed when he was hit by a car in nearby Del Mar just before the Buick Invitational in January.

“Kind of walking along the water there and looking out, I did think about him some,” Axley said.

Axley also shot his best round in his four U.S. Open appearances, a 2-under 69 highlighted by an eagle.

Duplantis, a free spirit who was a popular PGA Tour caddie, was killed early Jan. 23 when he stepped off a center median and into the path of a taxi a day before the Buick started.

“Anyone that’s lost someone that’s close to them knows what it’s like. He was a good friend and good person and had a huge heart,” Axley said. “It was tough out there today when I started thinking about it, but I also have to play golf. He was with me out there.”

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