Adam Scott recovered from a shaky start, going two-over through six, before jumping on the birdie train to card seven birdies in the last 12 holes at East Lake. Scott capped his five-under 65 with consecutive birdies on 17 and 18 — the roar from the crowd was so loud we heard it from the media center during K.J. Choi’s presser — to take a one-shot lead over Choi at the midway mark of the Tour Championship.
Scott, who won this event pre-FedExCup in 2006, played with fellow Aussie Jason Day, who shot three-under 67 to jump to a tie for third with world No. 1 Luke “ATM” Donald.
Similar to when they were paired together on Sunday at the Masters and ultimately shared runner-up honors, they fed off each other’s momentum.
“(Jason) was embarrassing me early on in the round, and I turned it around, and we kind of pulled each other through the back nine, really, both competitive, and we both probably want to win desperately this week,” said Adam. “It’s good to see us both playing well and pulling each other up to the top of the leaderboard.”
Added Day: “I’m in front and then he comes back, and then he’s in front and I want to come back. It does fire you up, you know, because everyone is in it to win it, and you just want to go out there and play the best you can.”
Day and Scott seem to make a good team. Reportedly, they’ve expressed interest in playing together in the fourball matches at Royal Mebourne in November.
“It’s fun (out there with Scotty), said Day after his round. “Hopefully we get paired together at the Presidents Cup. All of us have been talking about it out there, and we’re very pumped for the Presidents Cup. I’ve known Scottie since I was 15, so we’re pretty good mates.”
Said Scott: “I think it’s all going to work. I think I’d be a good pairing for him. He’s really fired up about being on the team and being in the event, and I think with the little bit of experience I have in it, I think I could probably make him feel really comfortable really quick if he didn’t straightaway. We’d be a strong pairing. I’d certainly like the chance to play with Jason.”
Scott, 31, joked he was getting too old to keep up with Day, 23, but it sounds like they balance each other out.
“Look, I really enjoy playing with Jason, and I really think very highly of his game, but also the way he is approaching everything for such a young guy, and I’ve told him that,” said Scott. “He is a young guy who’s just on his way up still and just full of confidence playing some really great golf, so it’s a challenge for me to try and keep pace with him and show him the old guys still have a little bit of something, too.”
Scott is No. 19 in FedExCup points after a disappointing T37 finish at last week’s BMW Championship. He knows he has to win and Webb Simpson, who ranked No. 1 in points going into the finale, has to finish pretty low for him to have a chance. (To be exact, Webb has to place T12 or worse — he’s currently T19 — but Donald has to finish outside the top three).
The Aussie is more focused on winning the tournament than the $10 million bonus.
“I just figured if I win this week, I’ll be happy no matter what. I’ll finish what I think has been a really good season,” Scott said.
Which would also put him in the running for Player of the Year.
(AP Photo/Dave Martin)