By Bernie McGuire in Dubai.
A bearded Adam Scott was singing the praise of playing partner Nicolai Hojgaard after the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship in the UAE capital.
Scott is competing in the Middle East for the first time since 2000 and is grouped with Hojgaard and Austrian Bernd Wiesberger for the opening two rounds of the $8m Rolex Series event being played for a first time in 17-years on the Yas Links course.
The 20-year-old Hojgaard matched Wiesberger’s three-under-par 69 while Scott signed for a 70, with the 2013 Masters champ and first Aussie to win at Augusta National full of praise for Hojgaard.
Hojgaard captured a maiden Tour title last September in winning the Italian Open and a week later his twin brother Rasmus posted the last day 63 to win the European Masters in Switzerland.
“I’ve got to say I was really impressed,” said Scott when asked what he thought of Hojgaard’s games.
“I was saying to my caddy that it has been a while since I have played alongside a young kid and he made me sit back and take notice.
“Obviously, his speed is incredible and if he figures out his short game, he could take his game up to a top at world level. There is nothing stopping a kid like that. He was phenomenal to watch.”
Scott, who earned his European Tour back in 2000 at the Great North Open in Slaley Hall, revealed that once he learned of his Abu Dhabi draw, he went onto the internet for a little research.
“I just did a bit of checking where I saw the draw and I may be embarrassed but he won in Italy last year,” said Scott smiling.
“His brother won in Cran, and I watched that, as it was a week later. That is really what I knew. I am actually surprised there has not been more media coverage or murmurings over in the States.”
And Scott, who at age 41 is by no means the shortest on Tour, indicated he found himself driving off last a few times on day one here at Yas Island.
“I must have been 30 yards behind down the last there but then I wasn’t totally feeling it today (smiling) but then it is not often I am the shortest guy off the tee in my groups but he was really impressive,” said Scott.
“I really look at a kid like that and hope that he works on the right things and gets the right advice from whoever is around him and goes on as he is an incredible talent.”
Whereas the 31-time winning Scott will be seeking a 10th straight Presidents Cup cap later this year, he reckons Hogjaard could be making his way later next year into a maiden European Ryder Cup side.
“It’s good for Europe, absolutely and the Ryder Cup is a great opportunity for him,” said Scott.
“He’s secure in Europe with a win and all he needs to do is push forward and take himself up that level where he is solid to make the Ryder Cup team. There is nothing stopping him from being one of the best players in the world. He has all the attributes.”
- Full scoring HERE