In recent months it’s nearly a given to find Adam Scott near the top of the leaderboard every week. Scott, who officially teamed up with Tiger Woods’ former looper Steve Williams at the British Open, has been practically on auto pilot.
After posting a two-under 69 Friday at TPC Boston, Scott caught fire in the second round of the Deutsche Bank Championship, shooting an eight-under 63, the best score of the tourney so far this week, to join Bubba Watson and Masters champ Charl Schwartzel in a three-way share of the lead at the halfway mark.
“I had so many chances (in the first round Friday), and I was misreading them and not really hitting great putts,” said Scott. “So after a few of them, they became weak putts and I wasn’t reading them well at all. Two three putts at the end of the round from nowhere, really, was had me leaving the course shaking my head a bit because I felt like I should have been three or four better without asking too much at all, making a few short putts.
“I’ve just been doing the same stuff. I just kept doing the drill that I always do yesterday, and today it was flowing nicely.”
Scott rolled in an eagle on the par-5 18th to make the turn at four-under (he started on 10). The Aussie also eagled the 18th during the second round en route to winning the 2003 Deutsche Bank Championship, his first victory on the PGA Tour. A good omen, perhaps?
“I wasn’t even a member of the Tour (when I won in ’03),” said Scott. “That’s how I got my membership. I was a sponsor’s invite, I think, for the week, so just to be in the mix of
a PGA Tour event was really the big buzz for me. It was a big deal, obviously, at the time. To beat Tiger was a big deal. I think that’s probably the first time I ever did it, so it felt pretty good.”
*Scott had a surprisingly poor final round in the weather-shortened Barclays last week. After shooting 66-67, he closed with a 76 to finish T67, dropping ten places in the FedExCup standings.
“I was playing fine, and 12 through 17 — I basically I don’t know, I think Steve (Williams) played those holes for me,” he said when asked about his poor final round. Scott drew laughs in the interview room, with one reporter, telling him, “Careful.” (Because of last month’s debacle when Williams got a little overeager and arguably took too much credit for Scott’s win when he was interviewed on the 18th green at Firestone, followed by a ten-minute informal presser by the scoring area.)
“That’s what he (Stevie) said to me, ‘It looks like I’m playing out here. What are you doing?'” said Scott. “There was like one shot every hole that you just shook your head at. I don’t know what happened. It was like I was asleep.”
Ah, that’s golf, ain’t it? This game can drive you nuts!
*PGA champ Keegan Bradley, who has strong ties to the Boston area and attended a year of high school in Hopkinton, Mass., didn’t want to disappoint his hometown crowd and horde of family members rooting for him in the gallery at this week’s Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston. Bradley shot three-under 71 in the first-round, but followed it with a disappointing five-over 76 Friday to miss the cut by a stroke.
Keegan, who missed the cut at last week’s Barclays, said Friday that his first-round 68 was really important for him. “It was a little bit more intense just because I want to play well in front of these guys, in front of my family,” he said. “But I had a good round. I had such a good group Friday. It was very relaxing.”
His dad Mark Bradley, the head pro at Jackson Hole Golf & Tennis Club, hadn’t seen his son play since the Northern Trust Open in February. He watched his son’s impressive, gutsy victory at he PGA Championship by himself at home. While he had the opportunity to fly out early Sunday morning for the final round, he didn’t want to bring in the chance of throwing off his son’s game or putting more pressure on him (and golfers are a strange, superstitious bunch).
“I had a chance to fly out early in the morning and go, but Keegan’s wonderful mother was there, sister and my grandson,” said Mark on Friday. “They had a little thing going there and they would’ve been happy to see me, but I could just see Keegan looking at me and…I could’ve cost him a shot, so I just stayed in Jackson Hole.”
Mark received nearly as many media requests as Keegan on Friday. He was even mic’ed up. “My dad’s having a great time,” said Keegan. “I noticed he had a mic on. He enjoyed himself.”
“The pressure he’s putting on himself is that he doesn’t want to fail this week,” said Mark. “He wants us to be able to watch him play in the final two rounds, so making the cut is right in there in front of him…to make the cut for everyone.”
On the par-5 7th on Friday, Keegan had to take an unplayable and drop in the fairway bunker (where he had a fried-egg lie), but he recovered beautifully, knocking his approach to five feet and saving par.
“What a 5,” exclaimed Mark. “Greatest 5 in the history of 5s!”
After Keegan signed his scorecard Friday, Mark rushed up to him, saying, “Do me a favor and sign for these kids from Hopkinton — they’re waiting for you (over there).” Keegan said he had to first make the media rounds — radio, TV, working press, etc.
“Promise me you will, OK?” said Mark.
Classic father-soon moment. “Look, he’s disgusted by it,” Mark joked.
Thirty-minutes later, the kids got their autographs.
Things didn’t go Keegan’s way on Saturday, but it’s not all that surprising considering he’s had to adjust to his newfound celebrity, which includes things like throwing the first pitch at the Red Sox game and tossing the coin at the Patriots preseason game and meeting Tom Brady — of course, all incredible highlights and a dream come true for Bradley, but you get the feeling he’s eager for life to settle down and get back to focusing on just golf.
“I was joking that I wouldn’t mind if my next tournament was in Northern Alaska,” said Keegan, laughing, on Friday. “No, honestly, it’s awesome being home and doing all this stuff. Sometimes it’s a little overwhelming, but it’s all good.”
Since he had an early tee time Friday, he looked forward to enjoying a relaxing and restful afternoon before his second round Saturday.
“It was not fun,” Keegan said after shooting 76, including a bogey on the par-5 18th. “Just a bad day.”
It’s hard not to wonder whether the added distractions (though exciting and fun) have taken a toll on him.
“I think I was fine, just sometimes you have bad days,” he said. “I felt fine today. I was the most rested today I’ve been in the last couple weeks, so I felt good.”
He probably needs about a week of calm, quiet and real rest, which he’ll hopefully get in the extra week he has between now and the third leg of the playoffs, the BMW Championship, to recharge the batteries.
Nick Watney has shot back-to-back 67s, putting him just a stroke behind the leaders. However, even if Watney wins Monday, he still won’t be the most famous Watney in the Boston area. His cousin Heidi Watney is the NESN on-field reporter for the Boston Red Sox. “Thursday in the pro-am I heard her name probably 100 times,” said Nick after his round Friday. “I think she’s got that title (as the most popular Watney) pretty much sewn up.”
Ernie Els, who has struggled this season, barely crept into the playoffs and entered the Wyndham Championship to ensure a spot. He stayed alive another week after finishing T32 at The Barclays last week and 99th in FedExCup points (the top 100 advanced).
Els turned in a bogey-free 6-under 65 in the second round at TPC Boston.
“I’m obviously very happy,” he said after his round. “I’ve been working quite hard to get some kind of game going, and it seems like I’ve got it going a bit now. The putter is starting to cooperate a little bit better.
“I love the golf course. The golf course is in great shape. The greens are probably the best we’ve putted on all year. If you can have a stroke going, you can make some putts. I had a nice day today.”
Els is another player who recently switched to the belly putter (starting at the Heritage in April).
Now, he needs a top-17 finish this week to advance to the BMW Championship and admits to feeling the stress of his precarious situation — something that he hasn’t dealt with much previously in his esteemed Hall of Fame career.
“There’s pressure, and this is maybe something that I needed,” he said. “It’s almost like a life-and-death situation. I know it’s not, but in golfing terms. So if you don’t really play well, you don’t advance. That’s probably what I needed to get my game back in shape. I’ve really worked hard on all aspects of my game. I feel like things are really starting to fall into place now.”
The South African has shot in the 60s in seven of his last nine rounds dating back to the Wyndham Championship. Prior to the Wyndham Championship, he only had nine of 50 rounds in the 60s this season. In those previous 50 rounds, Els only recorded back-to-back 60s one time (Sony Open in Hawaii).
Brandt Snedeker has turned golf into a game of darts lately. Snedeker, who shot ten-under 61 in the final round at last week’s Barclays to finish T3, shot a 29 on the back side today (his opening nine), becoming the seventh player to shoot a 29 on the back nine at TPC Boston.
To sweeten his second round at the Deutsche Bank Championship Friday, he aced the par-3 16th (his sixth ever hole-in-one) and then carded an eagle the par-5 18th.
Snedeker hit a 9-iron from 146 yards on 16 and “flushed it.”
“It was just kind of one of those fluke things where I hit a great shot at the right time and the wind kind of brought it in there nicely,” he said.
“It’s been a while, so I didn’t know how to react. It had been so long since I did. Definitely got the juices flowing, and it’s going to be an expensive bar bill tonight probably.”
Australian Greg Chalmers also aced the same hole.
“I was on 18 and I heard a huge roar, said Snedeker. “And Luke (Donald) looked over at me and jokingly said, ‘You don’t get even a skin for that one today.’ I figured someone had knocked one in there.”
According to the PGA Tour media notes, Snedeker needs an eagle-2 this week to join Steve Stricker as the only players this season with an ace, eagle-2 and eagle-3 in the same tournament. The last two players to record a hole-in-one, eagle-2 and eagle-3 in the same week are Steve Stricker (2011 the Memorial Tournament) and Rocco Mediate (2010 Frys.com Open). Stricker and Mediate both went on to win.
Don’t jinx Sneds!
Masters champ and PGA Tour rookie Charl Schwartzel shot back-to-back 66s for a two-day total of ten-under to share the lead with Scott and Bubba Watson. Schwartzel pointed out the contrast between the rounds despite the same end result.
“A little different than yesterday’s 5-under, but we’ll take it,” he said. “I started off the day, I felt like I played well, and I was very frustrated through the first nine holes. I felt like I played much better, made a very soft bogey on 18, and I probably gave up two shots to the field there.”
Schwartzel skipped last week’s Barclays, which dropped him from No. 21 to No. 28 in the FedExCup standings. But he’s looking to regain that ground and some with a strong finish and possibly a win at his first career start at the Deutsche Bank Championship. He skipped the first leg of the playoffs because it would have been 13 weeks on the road for him — which takes a huge toll on you (trust me).
“I would have had a week in between breaks,” said Schwartzel, who has yet to miss a cut in 14 stars on Tour this season. “I would have been (on the road) I think four weeks, four weeks, then one week off and then five more weeks. It’s just a bit too long for me to carry on, to be on the road for that long. Even though I had a week off, I can’t just do nothing, I have to practice, because you’ve got the next week coming up. In order to take a proper break you need two weeks in order to sit down and do nothing for a week and then start preparing for the next.”
Asked if he was aware Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk have both won the FedExCup (and $10 million bucks) without playing the first event, Schwartzel, smiling, said, “I’m aware. It’s quite a good omen.”
(AP Photo/Steve Milne)