Adam Scott followed his record-tying 10-under 62 in the first round at Bay Hill with a respectable four-under 68, 14-under total, opening up a seven shot lead as he heads into the weekend at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
“I think it was a pretty good way to back up a low round,” said Scott in his post-round presser. “It’s not easy to do that, especially around a tough course. And I think going back to the first hole was key in keeping some momentum out of yesterday, making kind of a scrappy par and a good putt on the first to feel like I’m heading in the right direction to start the day.
“Then I played really solid. I would say I struck the ball much better than yesterday, but just didn’t quite make the putts. But it’s tough to do that all the time around a track like this.”
On the front nine, Scott was even par through eight holes, whereas in the first round, he was five-under. However, he managed to stay patient and then the birdies eventually started to fall.
“I think you have those days like yesterday where it seems every yardage is perfect,” he said. “And you’ve got the read on every putt and things just happen. And as soon as you don’t have that perfect yardage, maybe on the first few holes, the pin’s a little tucked and it’s not shaping up for you, it all becomes a lot harder.
“Yesterday was just one of those days where everything fell into place for me. And today I just stayed patient on those holes where I didn’t do as well as yesterday and felt like if you keep playing this well and hitting good shots you’re going to create a few opportunities. It wasn’t that I was putting poorly the holes I didn’t make putts, I just had to wait for a couple to drop.”
As you can see in the video below, Scott is pretty dialed in, almost holing out his approach shot on no. 11.
He also went on to birdie the par-5 12th hole.
I walked with Scott, along with Justin Rose and Patrick “Top 5 in the world!” Reed, on the front nine, and the Australian was striking it well, but unlike in the first round, his putter was mostly cold until he reached the par-4 no. 9 and drained a 13-footer for birdie to make the turn at 11-under.
Following birdies on nos. 11 and 12, Scott got it to 13-under for the tournament. He also had consecutive birdies on nos. 15 and 16 to take it to 15-under, but a bogey on the last hole dropped him back to 14-under total.
Scott is schooling the field, as he holds a seven-shot lead over JB Holmes, Chesson Hadley and Francesco Molinari.
Despite the large lead, Scott plans to keep the pedal to the metal, so to speak, over the weekend. His mindset or game plan will be to pretend he’s starting a new tournament.
“I think I’ve got to just try and start again tomorrow,” said the 2013 Masters champion. “With this weather the course is going to play tricky again. I saw some of the pins out there that are tucked away and the greens definitely firmed up a little this afternoon. If it stays like this it will be firmer again.
“This course will really start to bare its teeth. I’ve got to take in the attitude of starting over again and trying to play a really hard 36 holes. And hopefully if I can keep striking the ball like I am I’ll give myself enough chances for birdie and hopefully more birdies than bogeys.”
With a win at Bay Hill, Scott has the opportunity to surpass world no. 1 Tiger Woods in the world rankings in a couple of weeks before the Masters.
Keegan Bradley played his way into contention in the second round, posting the low score so far, a five-under 67.
Bradley was able to find some magic with his putter on Friday — something he struggled with the day before.
“I played this same exact (way) yesterday, just no putts,” said Bradley following the second round. “I went to talk to Dr. Bob (Rotella) last night and my buddy, Jon, and just talked about getting less into making puts and more into just having fun and looking forward to making them.”
So, obviously, the putter was the difference.
“I finally made a few putts,” said Bradley, who only needed 25 putts in the second round. “It felt so good. I feel like I’ve got some good mojo going into the weekend.”
Bradley has played well this year, but he hasn’t had the greatest season in the world, with just one top 10 at his first start of the new wraparound schedule at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia. However, he has notched six top-25 finishes.
“I’m playing so good,” he said. “I played so good all year, but not much to show for it.
“If this putter clicks a little bit, I think I’ll have a good chance this weekend.”
Bradley is currently six-under at the halfway mark, which puts him at T5. However, he still trails Scott by eight strokes.
J.B. Holmes followed his first-round, four-under 68, with another solid score on Friday, a three-under 69, putting him at seven-under for the tournament. Yep, he’s tied for second through 36 holes, but he has a lot of ground to make up — 7 shots — because Scott is lapping the field.
“I played really well,” said Holmes. “I actually hit it a lot better than I did yesterday and just didn’t make quite as many putts.
“I putted really well yesterday. I putted great today, too. It was just all-around, it was just a solid round.
“I had one bad hole. One bad play on 11. Other than that, I hit a lot of great shots.”
Holmes only needed 23 putts on Thursday and 26 on Friday. So, yeah, you could say he’s rolling it pretty well.
Despite hitting it in the rough off the tee on no. 9, his last of the day, Holmes still managed to birdie it.
“I thought I was going to end up in the fairway, but just went out,” he said. “I was able to hit a really good shot out of the rough. I hit a lot of fairways today.
“This golf course is a lot of 3-woods for me. I have a new 3-wood this year that I really like and that I’m able to control really well. That’s paid off a lot.”
Chesson Hadley, who won the Puerto Rico Open a few weeks ago, continues his fine play, posting rounds of 69-68.
“Anytime you can go bogey-free around Bay Hill you’re doing something right,” said Hadley.
“I’m using my momentum from Puerto Rico, and I placed well last week. Let’s just go and enjoy the weekend. There’s a lot of big names here, who are very accomplished in how to win. Hopefully I can play well and be right there come Sunday.”
Sam Saunders, who is oftentimes better known as “Arnold Palmer’s grandson,” is in good position at the midway point of the tournament. Saunders followed his first-round three-under 69, with a one-under 71, four-under total, which puts him at T16.
“I’m quite pleased,” he said. “It’s a nice start. Obviously it’s a long tournament. A lot of golf left. But certainly happy to be in the position I’m in.”
Saunders, who has played the course dozens of times with his grandfather, felt incredibly comfortable at Bay Hill on Friday, which contributed to his success.
“Today I was as comfortable or more comfortable than I’ve ever felt at this stage, in this arena,” he said.
“I played the golf course today more like I play it on a week-in, week-out basis at home. I had fun out there and hit some good shots. The greens are just so fast. You really have to pick and choose your places to be aggressive. And it’s near impossible to go around this place without making a bogey or slip up somewhere.
“A couple of mistakes out there today, but in general I managed my game really well, and that felt good.”
Palmer followed his grandson on the course watching from a golf cart, but the commotion that creates doesn’t distract Saunders.
“He really is so conscious about not being distracting to me out there,” he said. “And he really tries to stay a good distance back. I saw him out there yesterday. I didn’t see him today. And yesterday I barely even noticed he was there. There wasn’t any noise. He’s really considerate of myself and the other players, as well.”