Adam Scott will begin the weekend at Royal Lytham & St. Anne’s in uncharted territory, but you’re unlikely to hear the Australian complaining.
A mere shot adrift of overnight leader Brandt Snedeker and in turn three shots clear of the next best-placed challenger (more about him later), the 32-year-old enters Saturday’s third round perfectly placed to end his career-long wait for a major title.
Scott’s opening round of 64, marred only by a careless bogey on the final hole, verged on the historic, but it was his second-round 67, carded after a gut-churning 24 hours of interrogation and media fanfare, that ultimately amounted to a more impressive statement of intent.
Arriving on the first tee four shots in arrears of Snedeker, the Tennessean having rampaged his way to a 64 earlier in the day, the former Players champion succeeded in maintaining his composure, even after an early setback – an untidy bogey on the third – threatened to set the tone for his afternoon.
It proved to be Scott’s only dropped shot of the second day, however; a largely irresistible blend of precise ball-striking and confident putting ensured he covered remaining 15 holes in four-under-par.
Indeed, it’s that newfound potency on the greens, largely the result of his switch to a broomhandle putter, that the Aussie credits with his recent emergence as a major championship threat
“My putting with the short putter was so hot and cold, and before I switched it was more often cold than hot. So very, very frustrating to play well and get nothing out of a round.
“Making the adjustment to putt with a long putter took a little bit of time, but it was effective once I brought it out on Tour. And I feel much ‑ I putt much more consistent with it, which has a really positive effect on the rest of my game. Takes a little pressure off the rest of my game.”
Much maligned in the past for his perceived lack of determination, the former European Tour wunderkind has also limited his playing schedule this season with a view to improving his performance at the season’s biggest events.
“I needed a little more time to practise at home on the range, on the course, whatever practice is needed or even practice at the site.
“I feel I play better when I practice more. And I think it’s been effective so far. Last year certainly my results were better in the majors, and this year, too, already. So I feel if that’s putting me in a better frame of mind coming into these things and confidence‑wise, then I’m doing the right thing.”
Though they currently enjoy a three-shot buffer, Scott anticipates he and Snedeker “will have [their] work cut out” to retain an overall advantage heading into Sunday’s final round.